A pastor who was widowed after his wife and unborn baby were murdered back in 2015 recently delivered a passionate and moving message about the men who are allegedly responsible for the deaths.
Davey Blackburn, whose wife Amanda and unborn baby girl were killed just over two years ago, noted in a Nov. 8 blog post that Jalen Watson, one of the men on trial for the deaths, recently entered a plea agreement.
Blackburn said that he believes the agreement is the “right thing” and that the prosecution has kept him up to date about developments in the case. But he also offered up some stirring comments about justice and the futures of the accused.
“While I want the full extent of justice for Amanda’s murder levied, I also want each of these men to experience radical heart changes, turn from their previous ways and begin following Jesus,” he wrote. “The justice system may be able to help with behavior modification, but only Jesus can truly change a heart.”
He continued, “I believe the Lord has been working on Jalen’s heart significantly over the last 2 years since Amanda’s death.”
Blackburn also expressed gratitude that Jalen is willing to work with authorities — something that he said could be risky for him but that, regardless of the motivation, will help bring “justice for Amanda.”
Amanda was murdered on Nov. 10, 2015, during an attempted burglary of the family home. The couple’s 15-month-old son, Weston, was in his crib upstairs when it all unfolded, but was not harmed.
In addition to Watson, 21, two others are among the accussed: Diano Gordon, 24, and Larry Taylor, 18.
In Blackburn’s touching blog post, he also discussed his reliance on faith as he has faced the difficult challenge of trying to let go of bitterness and forgive, especially in light of being face-to-face with Jalen for the first time ever last month in a courtroom. Blackburn wrote:
From the moment I sat down, I could feel every muscle fiber in my body begin to tense up. I had to consciously coax my body to relax as I took a couple deep breaths. I finally got my body somewhat regulated when, uncontrollably, it tensed up again. Jalen was turning to look in my direction. He glanced over his right shoulder and made a sweeping pan across the front row of the gallery stopping as soon as he locked eyes with me.
I thought he’d look away quickly, or look down in shame, or something. But he didn’t. He lingered, his gaze locked with mine. I didn’t know what to do. Courtroom ethics prohibit making any kind of gesture whether cordial or offensive. I didn’t know if I should nod or look away or keep staring. As the room began to close in around me I just sat there and stared. I don’t even know what kind of expression I had on my face. I just felt empty, and anxious all at the same time. But, I couldn’t take my eyes off of his. There was something telling in them, something different than I expected. They seemed tired, hurt, broken, and maybe . . . grieved.
Finally it became too much to bear and I broke away, darting my eyes back toward the judge. I thought that would be it, but then he did it again. And again. Each time as he swept the front row of the gallery as if with just his eyes he was telling each of us how sorry he was. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what was (and is currently) going through his mind, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe his heart is softening.
The level of forgiveness that Blackubrn is showing — especially in light of painful court proceedings that are yielding new and difficult-to-hear details about his wife’s death — is stunning. You can read his post in its entirety here.
Blackburn also revealed in a separate blog post that he is engaged to be married. In a detailed piece, he described meeting Kristi Monroy after Amanda’s death and falling in love.
“I realize for many people this may seem a bit soon and trust me. It did to me as well,” he wrote, before adding that he has loved ones’ support. “Her family, my family and Amanda’s family are all excited about it and give us their blessing.”