Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty in Aniah Blanchard Case

Prosecutors in Alabama say Ibraheem Yazeed kidnapped and murdered 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard —and he deserves to die for his crimes. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said Monday that charges against the 30-year-old have been upgraded from first-degree kidnapping to capital murder and his office plans to seek the death penalty, the Auburn Plainsman reports. “It is my intention that the response to this horrific crime serves as a warning,” Hughes said. “To anyone who believes they want to come to Lee County and engage in violent criminal behavior, you will certainly be dealt with, and the consequences will be severe.” Police confirmed last week that a body found in a wooded area was that of Blanchard, stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.

Prosecutors say Yazeed, who has been held without bail since his Nov. 8 arrest, shot Blanchard to death after kidnapping her from a Chevron station on Oct. 25, CNN reports. Hughes said the crime had “shaken our community to its core.” “The process of seeing justice done on behalf of Aniah and her family will not be swift, but it will be thorough,” he promised. Two other suspects have been charged with helping dispose of evidence or hindering the investigation, but prosecutors say they were not involved in the killing. “We have determined that Mr. Yazeed was the lone person responsible in this case for abducting Aniah Blanchard,” Hughes said. “He is the only person responsible for Aniah’s murder.” (Police say Yazeed was arrested due to “someone doing the right thing.”)

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