Appeals court refuses to free Saudi in murder case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Saudi national accused of hiring his roommate to kill a central Missouri bar owner has not met conditions of his bond and will remain behind bars even though his government has posted $2 million to get him out, Missouri’s Western District Court of Appeals ruled.

In its decision released Thursday, the court also declined to remove Circuit Judge Michael Wagner from the case, noting he had offered to hear further defense evidence showing why their client, Ziyad Abid, should be allowed to bond out.

Abid, 24, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the slaying of Blaine Whitworth, a popular bar owner in Warrensburg, who was gunned down in his driveway Sept. 1.

Reginald Singletary Jr., who had been living with Abid, admitted shooting Whitworth but said Abid paid him to do it, investigators said in court documents.

Abid was studying aviation at the University of Central Missouri, but his student visa was revoked after his arrest.

That worried Johnson County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook, who denied bond for Abid in mid-November because she believed he was a flight risk. She changed her mind two weeks later after defense attorneys noted the Missouri Constitution requires bond to be set in non-capital cases and set bond at $2 million.

Her Nov. 30 order also set several other conditions, including that Abid surrender his passport and pilot’s license and be on electronic monitoring, at his expense. She stipulated that the bond money had to be put up by a bail bond agent with proven resources to cover the $2 million in case Abid were to flee the country or be deported.

Cook then recused herself from the case and handed it to Wagner.

Abid’s attorneys tried several times to get the bond amount lowered, but Wagner refused to budge. Eventually Abid’s father, Saudi Airlines pilot Tariq Abid, persuaded the Saudi government to post the bond, and the money was wired directly into the Johnson County court clerk’s bank account in early April.

Around the same time, Abid was fitted with an electronic monitoring device, which he still wears even though he remains behind bars.

Upon learning the Saudi government had posted bond, Wagner refused to allow Abid to leave jail because he was afraid he would not come back for his trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

The judge offered to conduct more hearings to consider bond conditions, but instead defense attorneys filed a writ with the appeals court seeking Wagner’s removal and Abid’s release.

“We trust that Judge Wagner will conduct any further hearing that Abid requests in an expedited fashion and issue a prompt decision concerning conditions of release thereafter,” the court wrote.

No new hearings had been scheduled as of late Thursday afternoon. One of Abid’s attorneys, Patrick Peters, declined to comment on the appeals court’s decision.

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