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Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty For Man Accused Of Murdering UFC Fighter’s Stepdaughter
Authorities have confirmed that Aniah Blanchard died from a gunshot wound.
Prosecutors are planning to ask for the death penalty in the case of Ibraheem Yazeed, one of three men who have been charged in connection with the death of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard.
Yazeed was initially charged with first-degree kidnapping, but his charge has been upgraded to capital murder, Brandon Hughes, the district attorney of Lee County, Alabama, said during a press conference Monday, December 2. They plan to seek the death penalty for Yazeed, who is currently being held in the Lee County jail without bond.
“We have determined that Mr. Yazeed was the lone person responsible in this case for abducting Aniah Blanchard,” Hughes said. “He is the lone person responsible for Aniah’s murder.”
Blanchard, a student at Southern Union State Community College in Alabama, was last seen on Oct. 23 in surveillance footage taken in a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama; her car was found abandoned more than 50 miles away and with fresh damage two days later in Montgomery. As the search wore on — and her stepfather, UFC fighter Walt Harris, pleaded for information on her whereabouts — her remains were discovered in a wooded area of Macon County on Nov. 25, prompting authorities to declare her case a homicide investigation, according to CNN.
Blanchard died from a gunshot wound, officials have said. Further details regarding her passing have not yet been made public, but while speaking to reporters on Monday, Hughes remarked that the case “has absolutely shaken our community to its core.”
Yazeed is alleged to have snatched Blanchard from the convenience store while he was out on bail for an unrelated kidnapping and attempted murder case, according to police. Authorities said that a witness later told police that he’d witnessed Blanchard being forced into her vehicle but initially chose not to go to the police after his girlfriend urged him not to get involved, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities later found blood in Blanchard’s car suggesting that she’d suffered a “life-threatening injury.”
In addition to Yazeed, Antwain “Squirmy” Fisher, 35, and David Lee Johnson Jr., 63, are also facing charges for their alleged involvement in Blanchard's disappearance. Fisher was arrested on a kidnapping charge, while Johnson, the third to be arrested, was taken into custody on Nov. 25 and charged with hindering prosecution, according to the Montgomery Adviser.