Ibraheem Yazeed could face death penalty if convicted for brutal kidnapping and murder of Aniah Blanchard

Ibrahim Yazeed was indicted in three counts of capital murder and if he dodges the death penalty, he could still get life in prison without parole

Ibraheem Yazeed could face death penalty if convicted for brutal kidnapping and murder of Aniah Blanchard
UFC fighter Walt Harris' stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard was kidnapped and murdered by Ibrahim Yazeed in 2019 (Screenshot from WBRC)
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AUBURN, ALABAMA: A man who is accused of kidnapping and murdering 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard in 2019, has been indicted on three counts of capital murder. He could either get the death penalty or life in prison without parole for his crime if he is convicted during the trial. 

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Ibraheem Yazeed, 32, was indicted by a grand jury with charges of capital murder during a kidnapping, capital murder during a robbery and capital murder involving a victim in a vehicle, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Tuesday, November 15. The jury originally issued the indictment on Monday, November 14. Yazeed was first arrested in Pensacola in November 2019 just two weeks after Blanchard went missing.

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The stepdaughter of UFC champion Walt Harris was last seen on October 23 at a gas station in Auburn, Alabama. Police say Blanchard reportedly first encountered Yazeed at the same store. The teenager's black 2017 Honda CRV was tracked down from an apartment complex on the 6100 block of Boardwalk Boulevard in Montgomery. Blanchard's body was discovered on November 25 in a wooded area in Macon County, more than a month after she was seen alive. Her death was ruled a homicide and an autopsy found that she died due to a gunshot wound. Yazeed has been behind the bars in the Lee County jail since his arrest in November 2019.

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It was also found that Yazeed consciously shot her while trying to abduct her, and stole her vehicle and phone before fleeing. Yazeed himself has reportedly admitted to shooting Blanchard when she fought back and tried to get the gun. Prosecutors previously stated that they would seek the death penalty in the murder. If Yazeed is not sentenced to death by the jury at trial, he faces life in prison without the chance of parole, authorities said.

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At the time of Yazeed’s arrest in connection to Blanchard's murder, officials unearthed his long criminal history including an attempted murder and kidnapping incident in January 2019. He was arrested back in 2017 by Cass County sheriff’s deputies in Missouri on an arrest warrant for aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.

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Blanchard had been studying at the Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, Alabama, before she was murdered. During the investigation, officials identified her through the blood found inside her vehicle. At that time, an eyewitness reportedly told police that Yazeed shoved Blanchard into the car on the night she disappeared. However, Yazeed’s attorney, William Whatley Jr, strongly denied all allegations in 2019.

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Being the stepdaughter of a reputed UFC fighter, news of Blanchard's disappearance spread like wildfire. "Like Alabamians across our state, I was praying for a much different outcome. I will be keeping them in my prayers and ask the people of Alabama to continue to do so as well," said former Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

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