Last year, people all over the world were heartbroken by the disappearance and murder of 19-year-old student Aniah Blanchard. Blanchard’s case received widespread media attention, particularly in the martial arts community, largely due to her stepfather Walt Harris’ career as a UFC fighter. Multiple high-profile people in the MMA community donated to her reward fund, and tragically, Blanchard was eventually found deceased. The death penalty is being sought for the prime suspect, Ibraheem Yazeed.
Now, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved “Aniah’s Law,” which aims to reform bail in Blanchard’s home state. The bill would allow judges to deny bond to suspects charged with violent class-A felonies; currently in Alabama, judges can only deny bond in capital murder cases. The bill is particularly significant for Blanchard’s family because Yazeed was out on bond on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, and possession of marijuana — all stemming from a separate incident involving the beating of two men in a hotel — when he allegedly kidnapped Blanchard.
According to ABC 3340, Angela Harris — Blanchard’s mother and Walt’s wife — said, “Aniah’s name being on this bill is something that means everything to me because my daughter meant something. And she would be fighting for this. She’s speaking to me and telling me to fight for this. We have to save other people and do everything we can to prevent this from happening to other people.”