Sentence enhancement filed for Amanda Blackburn's unborn child as suspects appear in court today
INDIANAPOLIS (WTTV) -- The two men charged in the murder of Amanda Blackburn made their first court appearance Tuesday.
The suspects, 18-year-old Larry Jo Taylor, Jr. and 21-year-old Jalen Watson, entered a not guilty plea and both were assigned public defenders. Prosecutors requested a no contact order be issued for several people, and the judge approved the request.
With charges now filed in the Blackburn case, prosecutors have a number of options available at their disposal, ranging from sentence enhancements to the death penalty.
Prosecutors announced Monday that two men, 18-year-old Larry Jo Taylor, Jr. and 21-year-old Jalen Watson, have been charged in the murder of Amanda Blackburn, a pastor's pregnant wife who was shot during a home invasion robbery on Nov. 10.
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Taylor has been charged with felony murder, three counts of burglary, three counts of theft, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, criminal confinement, auto theft and carrying a handgun without a license. Watson has been charged with murder, three counts of burglary, three counts of theft, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and auto theft.
Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry says they'll treat this like any other case, and take the family's wishes into consideration.
"In every single case where there are aggravating factors, we follow the same procedure every single time," said Curry. "We meet internally to review the case, and we meet with the family and ultimately make a decision rather than making a decision based on snap judgment."
Because Amanda was pregnant, prosecutors could add a sentence enhancement of six to 20 years, under a state law written by State Sen. Jim Merritt after the 2008 shooting of a pregnant woman whose baby didn't survive. Tuesday, the Marion County Prosecutor's Office confirmed the filing of a sentence enhancement related to murder resulting in the termination of pregnancy. It will be added to the case and presented to the jury in trial. If the enhancement is applied to the sentencing, it could add an extra 6 to 20 years to the sentence.
"It is heartbreaking," said Merritt. "I'm hopeful that it allows prosecutors to have another tool in the toolbox to say to that criminal that if you fire a gun you might not only be killing one person, you might be killing two."
Pretrial has been scheduled for Jan. 8, 2016.
WATCH: Family of Amanda Blackburn reacts to arrests: