New testimony has revealed disturbing details regarding the alleged murder of Aniah Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.
Josh Mixon, a detective with the Auburn Police Department in Lee County, Alabama, took the stand last week and recalled speaking to a witness who claimed that they saw Blanchard’s accused killer, Ibraheem Yazeed, dispose of a body, the Associated Press reported. The witness told Mixon that he saw Yazeed dragging what looked to be a comforter with a body inside of it into a wooded area near Shorter, Alabama.
According to Mixon, the witness recalled saying to Yazeed, “Tell me that’s not a body.”
“It won’t come back on you or your family,” Yazeed allegedly responded.
The witness said that Yazeed had the body in a truck in an area of Macon County — near to where Blanchard’s remains were found, local outlet WRBL reported. Macon County neighbors Lee County.
While Wednesday’s revelations were undoubtedly disturbing, prosecutors said that the new testimony didn't contain any new information for Blanchard’s family, according to WRBL.
“This is a tough case, I can’t imagine what her family is going through. Murder cases are ugly. You have to talk about these things. You have to talk about these things in somewhat of a dispassionate way,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said. “Things come out, I’ve advised the family along the way, every step of the way about what’s going on. Nothing that they’ve heard today was a surprise, because I’ve kept them informed because they have a right to know.”
Blanchard, 19, went missing last year and was last seen alive in a convenience store the night of Oct. 23, 2019. Her remains were found in a wooded area the following month. She died after sustaining gunshot wounds, an autopsy revealed.
Blanchard and Yazeed are believed to have first encountered each other at a gas station. Yazeed was captured on surveillance camera shopping at the same convenience store where Blanchard was last seen alive, WSFA reports.
Prosecutors now believe that Yazeed and Blanchard left a gas station in Auburn together and then traveled to another nearby gas station, where Yazeed purchased either a cigarette or cigar while Blanchard waited in the car, according to WRBL. Blanchard reportedly texted her roommate to tell her that she was heading home, but she was first smoking with someone she’d just met whose name was Eric.
A witness told authorities that they saw Yazeed that night, wearing nothing but shorts with a gun tucked inside, and that he had Blanchard's car, WALA reports. The unnamed person also alleged that they did not see Blanchard in the car, and that Yazeed told him that he shot a girl who "went for the gun," according to court documents obtained by the outlet.
Yazeed’s attorney previously argued that Blanchard willingly let Yazeed into her vehicle and that the state has no evidence that a kidnapping occurred in Lee County. Prosecutors contended that Yazeed gave Blanchard a fake name of Eric — proof of ill intent and that she was “lured under false pretenses,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The judge ultimately ruled that the case will be handed over to a grand jury, according to the outlet.
Authorities have been tight-lipped regarding a motive for the killing, The Washington Post reported last year.
Prosecutors announced in December that they would be seeking the death penalty for Yazeed, according to an earlier report from the Montgomery Adviser. Although three men were initially arrested in connection to Blanchard's murder, prosecutors have said that Yazeed was “the lone person responsible” for abducting and killing her.
Yazeed is currently being held at the Lee County Justice Center without bond, according to WRBL. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney available for comment.
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