Alabama House approves bill named for murdered stepdaughter of UFC fighter

Auburn Police Department(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill in the name of Aniah Blanchard, the 19-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered last year, that would make it easier to hold suspects accused of violent crimes to be held without bail.

House Bill 81, named Aniah’s Law, would allow judges to hold those accused of committing violent Class A felonies. It was unanimously approved by the House on Wednesday and will now move to the Senate.

Currently, the Alabama constitution allows bail for all persons “unless the person is charged with a capital offense and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great.”

The man charged with capital murder in Blanchard’s death, Ibraheem Yazeed, was out on bond in an earlier kidnapping case when he allegedly murdered Blanchard. In that case, he allegedly nearly beat a man to death, according to Alabama prosecutors.

Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris, was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23. Yazeed was seen on surveillance video inside the convenience store at the same time as Blanchard, and a witness outside the store saw him force Blanchard into her black 2017 Honda CRV, according to charging documents.

Her remains were later found in a wooded area in Macon County, Alabama, about 40 miles east of the convenience store, on Nov. 25. Investigators determined that she died from a gunshot wound.

Blanchard’s mother, father and stepmother were at the hearing when the bill was approved.

“She would be fighting for this. She’s speaking to me and telling me to fight for this,” Blanchard’s mother, Angela Harris, told the committee, according to ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA-TV. “We have to save other people and do everything we can to prevent this from happening to other people.”

If passed, the bill would ensure that a suspect could be held “if no condition of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to the accused, the public, or both.”

Yazeed is being held without bond. Two others have been arrested on charges related to Blanchard’s disappearance.

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