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Marion County Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins entered not guilty pleas for 18-year-old Larry Taylor Jr. and 21-year-old Jalen Watson and appointed attorneys for the Indianapolis men during their initial hearing on murder, burglary, theft and several other charges. The judge also set a Jan. 8 pretrial conference for both men.
Taylor, who authorities allege fatally shot 28-year-old Amanda Blackburn earlier this month, appeared distracted, swiveling back and forth in his chair. Hawkins told Taylor more than once that he needed to respond clearly and audibly to each of his questions about whether he understood the charges, rather than only "yeah." Watson, however, said "yes" and "yes sir," throughout.
Prosecutors said Taylor and Watson entered through the unlocked front door of Blackburn's home shortly after her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, left for the gym about 6 a.m. Nov. 10. A probable cause affidavit says Taylor shot Amanda Blackburn three times, including once in the back of the head.
Watson faces a murder charge because Blackburn was killed during a home burglary and prosecutors allege that he was involved in it.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Monday it was not clear whether Blackburn, who was 13 weeks pregnant, had been sexually assaulted; she was found partially nude. Prosecutors have filed a request with the court that seeks to enhance the murder charge Taylor faces, citing that she was pregnant at the time of her killing.
Under the state's request, an additional six to 20 years could be added to Taylor's sentence if he is convicted or pleads guilty to the murder charge, and the jury or judge finds that prosecutors have proven that Taylor caused the termination of her pregnancy.
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