Prosecutors in Alabama are seeking the death penalty for the lead suspect in the murder of Aniah Blanchard.
According to a report from the Montgomery Advertiser, an autopsy determined that Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris, was killed by homicide and died due to a gunshot wound. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes announced that he will seek the death penalty against Ibraheem Yazeed as a result.
“The process of seeing justice done for Aniah and her family will not be swift, but I can promise it will be thorough,” Hughes said.
Last week, human remains found in Macon County, Ala., were identified as belonging to Blanchard. Blanchard, 19, had been missing since Oct. 24, and her vehicle was later recovered about an hour away from her home in Auburn. Three suspects were arrested in connection with Blanchard’s disappearance, including Yazeed, who was arrested on charges of first-degree kidnapping after surveillance video showed him inside a convenience store with Blanchard and a witness later identified Yazeed as the man who forced her into a vehicle against her will on Oct. 23.
A second suspect, Antwain Fisher was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping on Saturday, and a third,David Johnson Jr., was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution in the case. However, Hughes said that Yazeed was “the lone person responsible in this case for abducting Aniah Blanchard. He is the lone person responsible for Aniah’s murder.”
“It is my intention that the response to this horrific crime be a warning to anyone, anyone who believes they want to come to Lee County and engage in violent criminal behavior,” Hughes said. “They will certainly be dealt with, and the consequences will be severe.”
Harris withdrew from a proposed headlining bout with Alistair Overeem at UFC on ESPN 7 to focus on the search for his stepdaughter. The heavyweight released a heartfelt statement after Blanchard was confirmed dead.