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Prosecutors plan to seek death penalty in murder of Aniah Blanchard

Posted at 12:58 PM, Dec 03, 2019

LEE COUNTY, Ala. – Charges against one of the suspects in the death of college student Aniah Blanchard are being upgraded from first-degree kidnapping to capital murder, the Lee County, Alabama, district attorney said Monday.

DA Brandon Hughes said his office plans to seek the death penalty against the suspect, Ibraheem Yazeed , who is in the Lee County Jail without bond.

CNN has reached out to Yazeed's attorney for comment.

Blanchard, 19, went missing in late October in Auburn, and her remains were discovered last week in a wooded area of Macon County. An autopsy determined she died of a gunshot wound, and the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, Hughes said Monday.

The Auburn Police Department determined Yazeed abducted Blanchard from a Chevron station on College Street, Hughes said.

"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."

Hughes called it a "horrific crime" that has "absolutely shaken our community to its core."

Blanchard was the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris and a student at Southern Union State Community College, which has several campuses in East Alabama.

Yazeed is one of three suspects arrested in the case. At a news conference Monday, Hughes refused to discuss charges against the other two men.

Yazeed was arrested November 7 in Florida by members of the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force and Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff's Office on a warrant from police in Auburn.