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Alabama House passes Aniah's Law; bills head to the Alabama Senate

Alabama House passes Aniah's Law; bills head to the Alabama Senate

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Aniah Blanchard (copy)

O-A file photo Aniah Blanchard

A bill named after a Southern Union student who was kidnapped and killed in 2019 is headed to the Alabama Senate.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed HB131 in a 102-0 vote and HB130 in a 101-0 vote Tuesday afternoon to move Aniah’s Law to the Alabama Senate at a later date.

Named after Aniah Blanchard, Aniah’s Law consists of two measures: HB131, a constitutional amendment giving judges the power to deny bail for 13 first-degree felonies, and HB130, full list of these charges. As Alabama law stands, bond can only be denied in cases of capital murder.

The man charged with capital murder in Blanchard’s death, Ibraheem Yazeed, was out on bond when police say he kidnapped and murdered Blanchard in October 2019.

Yazeed is charged with two counts of capital murder in connection with the kidnapping and death of Blanchard. He was originally charged with first-degree kidnapping after an investigation revealed that Yazeed forced Blanchard into her own vehicle against her will, according to previous reports.

Blanchard’s remains were not located until Nov. 25, 2019, in the 38000 block of County Road 2 in Shorter.

Yazeed is charged with two counts of capital murder: capital murder - kidnapping and capital murder - using a deadly weapon while the victim is inside a vehicle. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. He is being held in the Lee County Jail without bond.

Rep. Chip Brown of Mobile is the sponsor of both bills. A similar bill, HB81, was unanimously approved by the House last March, but COVID-19 halted the 2020 Regular Session before the Senate could vote.

“This touches home because this is home,” co-sponsor Joe Lovvorn of Lee County said Tuesday on the House floor. 

Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, of Montgomery, appeared in Lee County court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing in his capital murder case. Judge Russell Bush found probable cause to forward Yazeed's two capital murder charges to a grand jury. Yazeed is charged in connection to the kidnapping and murder of Aniah Blanchard.

Currently, Section 16 of the 1901 Alabama constitution allows bail for all persons “except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

Both companion bills are constitutional amendments and would go to the ballot box via referendum if passed by the legislature.

Aniah’s Law would amend to section to read “If no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to the accused, the public, or both, ensure the presence of the accused at trial, or ensure the integrity of the judicial process, the accused may be detained without bail. Excessive bail shall not in any case be imposed or required.”

Sara Palczewski contributed to this story.


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