Missouri Judge Refuses to Release Saudi Student After He Posted $2M Bond
A Missouri college student who was arrested in connection with the murder of a local bar owner posted a $2 million bond, but the judge still refuses to let him go.
Ziyad Abid of Saudi Arabia is accused of paying his roommate to murder William “Blaine” Whitworth, who was shot and killed in Warrensburg on Sept. 2, 2012, according to Yahoo. The 24-year-old aviation student at Central Missouri State could not afford $2 million bond alone, so the Saudi government posted the money for him. But Circuit Judge Michael Wagner refuses to release Abid and admits he could be in violation of the Missouri Constitution, which only allows for a suspect to be held without bond if it is a capital murder case.
The Warrensburg Police Department issued a statement in September that Johnson County Prosecutor Lynn Stoppy thinks Abid is a flight risk. Thus, Associate Court Judge Wanda Sue Dodson ruled he be held without bond.
Abid’s attorneys, including a former U.S. attorney for Missouri, asked an appeals court to release Abid. They believe his current judge, Wagner, is biased because of Abid’s nationality and should be removed.
His roommate Reginald Singletary, also a suspect in the murder case, is being held on $1 million bond. Both suspects are charged with first-degree murder — not capital murder — and armed criminal action.
Singletary, 27, admitted he shot Whitworth in the bar owner’s driveway, but claims Abid paid him to do it.
Prosecutors have not presented a motive for Abid wanting Whitworth dead. Singletary, on the other hand, had been fired for the bar a week before the shooting.
"There's no indication whatsoever this case has anything to do with any kind of subversive activity or terrorism," said defense attorney, John Osgood, the former federal prosecutor. "This is a plain, old simple murder of a bar owner done by a bouncer who was fired a week before. My client just happened to be his roommate."
Stoppy, who once called Abid a flight risk, now said she agrees with a previous judge’s ruling that Abid should be granted bond.
In November, Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook also denied bond because she thought Abid could flee or be deported. His student visa had been revoked and she feared the government would deport him to Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, before he could go to trial.
Realizing the Missouri Constitution would not allow for him to be held without bail, two weeks later Cook set the bond at $2 million. That same day she retired, and the case went to Wagner.
The bar owner’s mother, Diane Whitworth, also worries about Abid being deported before the trial.
"We understand nothing we can do will bring our son back," she told the Associated Press. "It isn't just about one person. It's about anyone who comes to the U.S. to avail themselves of our educational system and commits a crime. They have the potential luxury of being deported before anything happens."
Abid’s case will go to trial Aug. 20, nearly a year after the bar owner’s murder.