Charges dropped against Saudi national in death of Warrensburg bar owner

08/02/2013 7:32 PM

08/02/2013 7:32 PM

Prosecutors on Friday dropped all charges against a Saudi national accused of hiring someone to kill a Warrensburg, Mo., bar owner.

Ziyad Abid had been held in jail since last September for the shooting death of William Blaine Whitworth even though the required $2 million had been posted for his bond. The judge in the case didn’t like the source of the money: the Saudi government.

Twice, Circuit Judge Michael Wagner denied Abid’s release on grounds he could be a flight risk or deported by the federal government before trial.

Abid, 24, who had studied aviation at the University of Central Missouri before his arrest, faced a first-degree murder charge. Whitworth, 25, was shot to death Sept. 1, 2012, in the driveway of his home in Warrensburg.

Four days after the killing, authorities arrested Reginald Singletary Jr., a former bouncer at one of the two bars Whitworth operated in the college town. Singletary, a graduate of Winnetonka High School who later played football at Missouri Valley College, told authorities that Abid paid him to kill Whitworth.

But on Friday, Johnson County Prosecutor Lynn M. Stoppy dismissed the case against Abid.

She said in a statement: “Very recently, our understanding of evidence previously obtained from a critical witness has changed. As a result, the state is currently left without sufficient evidence to support the prosecution at this time.”

Abid’s defense attorney, Pat Peters, told The Associated Press that he and his client were “thrilled beyond belief.”

Peters argued earlier that Singletary had told several versions of events, including that a gang, then the Mafia, had hired him to kill Whitworth. Peters also said no physical evidence tied Abid to the killing. The only thing that did, Peters said, was the accusation by Singletary.

Diane Whitworth, the victim’s mother, was clearly upset by the dismissal when reached by phone.

“We are disappointed, but other than that there isn’t anything else to say,” she told The Asociated Press.

Abid’s parents arranged for the Saudi government to provide the $2 million for their son’s bond. The money was electronically transferred in April to a Warrensburg bank. But Wagner refused to release him. Because of his arrest, Abid had lost his student visa, which meant he was in the country illegally and could be deported, Wagner said.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster supported Wagner’s decision.

The Missouri Court of Appeals in June also ruled against Abid.

Singletary’s trial is set for Feb. 4.

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