Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Abid Ziyad cannot leave Johnson County. Instead, it should have stated he cannot be in Johnson County, except for scheduled court appearances or for trial preparation.
By Andy Lyons
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Missouri Constitution guarantees those accused of crimes the right to bond out of jail.
This forced the hand of Division 1 Circuit Judge Jacqueline A. Cook Friday in allowing bond for the international student charged in the homicide of a local bar owner.
Bond was set at $2 million for Ziyad T. Abid, the 23-year-old Saudi Arabian national who was charged Sept. 5 with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of William Blaine Whitworth. Whitworth was shot and killed in his driveway Sept. 1 at 1006 Sunflower on the east side of Warrensburg.
The state constitution provides that “all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when proof is evident or the presumption great.”
Abid’s charges are not capital offenses, according to court records. Also, the constitution stipulates that bail can be denied if evidence in a case has been presented or if the defendant poses a danger to the public.
No evidence has been presented in the case, and Abid was not found to be a public threat, according to court records.
“The court is keenly aware that the defendant’s status here in the United States is questionable and that the United States government may institute actions to deport the defendant, notwithstanding this criminal case,” according to court records.
The court initially determined that Abid was an “alien unlawfully present in the United States,” which is why he was denied bail. His status here became unlawful when he lost his student visa. If the offense is not bailable, a person who is in the U.S. unlawfully can be kept in jail without bail until tried in court, according to state statutes.
“Whether the United States government should deport anyone who is awaiting trial on a serious offense in a sovereign state of this country is one which Congress must resolve,” Cook wrote in her decision to allow bail.
Abid has not yet bonded out of the Johnson County Jail as of Wednesday evening.
And to do so, he must meet stringent conditions: $2 million surety only; he must be on electronic monitoring, at his own cost; he must be supervised by a pretrial supervision agency approved by the court; he must report to court one time per month; he must turn over his passport and all other travel documents; he must turn over his pilot’s license; he shall not leave the state of Missouri; he shall have no contact with the victim’s family; he shall have no contact with any witness endorsed by the state of Missouri or their family; he shall have no contact with the co-defendant or his family; and he cannot be in Johnson County except for scheduled court appearances or for trial preparation and only if accompanied by his attorneys.
Reginald L. Singletary, 27, was also charged Sept. 5 with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the case.
Singletary told police after he was arrested that he shot Whitworth with a handgun “at the request of Ziyad T. Abid in exchange for money from Abid,” according to court records.
Barry and Diane Whitworth, Blaine’s parents, wrote to Judge Cook prior to her taking up the motion to reconsider bond. It was a plea to the judge not to give Abid the opportunity to leave the United States.
“We believe that for justice to be served, there has to be an answer to this question of how to deal with unlawfully present aliens and we understand all of these issues are worthy of considerable legal examination,” the letter states.
Abid and Singletary appeared separately for arraignment Oct. 9. Both pleaded not guilty.
Singletary is being held at the Johnson County Jail on $1 million bond. His attorney recently requested a change of venue.
Abid’s next hearing is Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m. under Judge Michael Wagner. Singletary’s next hearing is Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. under Judge Wagner also.