Man accused of killing Walt Harris’ daughter indicted on capital murder charges in Alabama
The man accused of killing 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard — the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris — has been indicted on three counts of capital murder in Alabama.
Ibraheem Yazeed, the 32-year-old suspect who was arrested back in November 2019, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of capital murder during a kidnapping, capital murder during a robbery and capital murder involving a victim in a vehicle. AL.com initially reported the news after Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall made the announcement on Tuesday.
If convicted, Yazeed faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the separate capital murder charges.
Yazeed has been held without bond since his initial arrest in Pensacola, Fla., on Nov. 7, 2019, after police began a search once he became the prime suspect in Blanchard’s kidnapping and subsequent murder.
Blanchard initially went missing on Oct. 23, 2019, after she entered a convenience store in Auburn, Ala., and then disappeared. Surveillance footage from the convenience store showed Blanchard there at the same time as Yazeed, who was already out on bond on separate charges including attempted murder and kidnapping from a different incident in January 2019.
Two days after she went missing, Blanchard’s 2017 Honda CR-V was recovered at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Ala., with evidence showing a “life-threatening” amount of blood inside that led authorities to believe the Southern Union Community College student had been harmed and was the victim of foul play.
Blanchard’s remains were found a month later on Nov. 25 in a wooded area in Macon County, Ala. Two days later, Auburn Police positively identified the remains as Blanchard.
In the aftermath of Blanchard’s murder, Alabama lawmakers introduced a bill nicknamed Aniah’s Law that sought to change the state constitution to allow judges to deny bail for multiple capital crimes including murder, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, sexual torture, domestic violence in the first degree, human trafficking in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, arson in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, terrorism, and aggravated abuse of a child under age six.
Previously only suspects in capital murder charges cases were allowed to be denied bail.
The law was officially passed on Nov. 8 with Alabama voters overwhelmingly supporting the measure with 80 percent of constituents voting to approve the changes to the constitution.
Harris personally worked with lawmakers on getting the bill passed following his stepdaughter’s tragic murder. Now Aniah’s Law has been passed and will be added to the Alabama state constitution.