The principal suspect charged in connection to the death of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard is facing a capital murder charge.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, of Montgomery, is charged with the capital murder of Blanchard, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes announced Monday at a news conference.
Hughes said his office will be seeking the death penalty.
“This case has shaken our community to its core,” Hughes said. “The process of seeing justice done on behalf of Aniah and her family will not be swift, but it will be thorough.”
Blanchard, whose remains were found last week in Macon County, died by a gunshot wound, according to a report from the medical examiner’s office.
“An autopsy was done and the medical examiner ruled that Aniah Blanchard was killed in a manner of homicide; cause of death was a gunshot wound,” Hughes said.
Yazeed is being held in the Lee County Jail without bond. He was previously charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection to Blanchard’s disappearance.
Hughes believes Yazeed is the sole person responsible for Blanchard’s death.
“In the interests of public safety I do want to say…that we have determined that Mr. Yazeed is the lone person responsible in this case for abducting Aniah Blanchard,” Hughes said. “He is the lone person responsible for Aniah’s murder.”
Hughes added that Yazeed remains innocent of the charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Auburn police and Hughes previously stated that new charges were likely due to Blanchard’s case becoming a homicide investigation.
Antwain “Squirmy” Shamar Fisher, 35, of Montgomery, is also charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection with Blanchard’s disappearance.
David Lee Johnson Jr., 63, was arrested last week and charged with hindering prosecution for lying to police about who took Yazeed to Florida.
Hughes would not comment on the cases of Fisher and Johnson.
Court and chargesYazeed faces the charge of capital murder, which in this case is the intentional murder during a kidnapping, according to Hughes.
“He’ll be served an arrest warrant for capital murder. At that time he’ll have to have another, what we call 48/72, or a first-appearance hearing,” Hughes said. “He will also have the opportunity for another preliminary hearing on this matter, but those are decisions that he’ll have to make with his lawyer.”
Yazeed is represented by court-appointed attorney Elijah Beaver.
Yazeed is also due in Montgomery County court Thursday. He is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing at 8:30 a.m. in reference to his February first-degree kidnapping and attempted murder charges, according to court records.
Fisher is set to appear in Lee County court at 9 a.m. Dec. 18 for a preliminary hearing.
A gag-order hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. A motion to lift the gag order filed by members of the media, including the Opelika-Auburn News, will be heard in the case of both Yazeed and Fisher.
BackgroundThe Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences positively identified the remains found Nov. 25 in the 38000 block of County Road 2 in Shorter as those of Blanchard, thanks to help from a team of forensic anthropologists from Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Justice Studies, Auburn police Chief Paul Register said.
Her remains were found several feet into the wood line after a brief search, police said.
Blanchard was last seen Oct. 23 at the Chevron convenience store on South College Street in Auburn. She was reported missing the next day.
Blanchard’s 2017 black Honda CR-V was recovered Oct. 25 at an apartment complex in Montgomery.
Blood evidence was found in the passenger side of her vehicle “that was indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury,” an arrest affidavit says.
Investigators also found a witness who claimed to see a young woman matching Blanchard’s description being forced into the car while parked in the Chevron lot.
The witness told police the assailant looked like Yazeed.
“He said he observed Blanchard and a black male, later positively identified as Ibraheem Yazeed, at the store at the same time, and he observed Yazeed forcing Blanchard into her vehicle against her will and then leaving with her in that vehicle,” Auburn police Detective Josh Mixon testified during Yazeed’s preliminary hearing.