A 24-year old Saudi national and Missouri college student on trial for hiring his roommate to murder a local bar owner walked free yesterday when prosecutors decided against going forward with a trial citing lack of evidence.
The move left residents of the town where the murder took place flabbergasted and claiming a “fix.”
Ziyad Abid, a student at the University of Central Missouri, sat in jail since September 5 of last year, when he was arrested in connection with the shooting death of William Blaine Whitworth, owner of two bars in Warrensburg, Mo.
Abid’s roommate, Reginald Singletary Jr., confessed to gunning down Whitworth in an ambush outside the businessman’s home. But Singletary told police that Abid paid him to commit the murder, leading to the Saudi student’s arrest.
Abid had been studying aviation and was preparing to enter his senior year at the time of his arrest.
In April of this year, the Saudi Arabian government offered to put up Abid’s $2 million bail, but Judge Michael Wagner turned the offer down because he considered Abid a flight risk.
But on Friday, all charges against Abid were suddenly dropped. Prosecutor Lynn Stoppy offered only the explanation that the testimony of a crucial witness had recently changed. She did not indicate if that witness was Singletary.
Abid’s attorneys always maintained that Singletary’s claims were false and no evidence linked Abid to Whitworth’s murder. Singletary, om the other other hand, had a motive, Abid’s attorneys said. The confessed killer was earlier fired from his position as a bouncer at one of Whitworth’s establishments.
Mike Bodenhamer, a friend and business associate of Whitworth, said that, “the fix was in a long time ago,” on the case.
Another Warrensburg resident, Steve Ciafullo, charged that, “there’s a stench to this.”
Abid’s attorneys charge that police led Singletary to finger Abid during interrogation sessions. Police declined to respond to the claim.