The death penalty will be sought in the prosecution of the man accused of fatally shooting Aniah Haley Blanchard, the 19-year-old stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.
During a press conference Monday attended by the Montgomery Advertiser, the Auburn Plainsman, and WIAT, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said that investigators have determined Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, was “the lone person responsible in this case for abducting Aniah Blanchard.”
Hughes added: “He is the only person responsible for Aniah’s murder.”
Yazeed was identified as a person of interest in Aniah’s disappearance after video surveillance showed him inside the Auburn, Alabama, convenience store where Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23.
Yazeed was arrested earlier this month — hours after a first-degree kidnapping warrant was signed off on. He is being held in Lee County Jail in Alabama without bond, and the charges against him have been upgraded from first-degree kidnapping to capital murder, Hughes said.
It was unclear if Yazeed had pleaded to the charges, or who his lawyer is.
On Oct. 26, two days after she was reported missing by her family, police found the teen’s car nearly 60 miles away in Montgomery.
Undisclosed evidence recovered from the vehicle led Auburn police to believe Blanchard was harmed — a victim of foul play.
Blanchard’s body was found last week in Macon County along County Road 2.
Hughes confirmed on Monday that the medical examiner determined she had died of a gunshot wound.
Antwain Shamar Fisher, 35, has also been charged in connection with this case. Fisher was arrested for first-degree kidnapping and is being held on $50,000 bond.
David Lee Johnson Sr., 63, was also charged with hindering prosecution in Blanchard’s case, but Hughes has not discussed how he was related to the case.
PEOPLE was unable to determine if either man had retained a lawyer or entered pleas to the charges against them.
“It is my intention that the response to this horrific crime serves as a warning,” Hughes told reporters. “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.”
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Hughes continued, “This case has shaken our community to its core, and I cannot say enough about how the Auburn Police Division and every other agency involved in this case responded to the report of Aniah’s disappearance.”
“From its first moments, law enforcement moved swiftly and methodically to find Aniah’s abductor, her murderer and her,” Hughes said. “The process of seeing justice done on behalf of Aniah and her family will not be swift, but it will be thorough.”
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