By ANDY LYONS
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — A trial date is set for one of the defendants in the shooting death of Warrensburg bar owner William “Blaine” Whitworth.
Reginald L. Singletary, charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, has a pretrial conference scheduled for Aug. 5. The trial is set for Sept. 17-20 at the Johnson County Justice Center.
During a case review hearing on Tuesday, Singletary’s attorney withdrew a request to change the venue of the trial to another county.
Dane Miller, a criminal justice professor at UCM, said the purpose of a change of venue is to have a better chance of selecting jurors who are not prejudiced toward either side.
“In the present case, because it brought such notoriety, (the trial) would have been difficult to do here in Johnson County,” Miller said. ‘Thus, the defense moved for a change of venue, probably to Cass County. However, it might end up being less expensive simply to pick the jury from Cass County and bring the jurors here rather than convening the trial there and having all witnesses and anyone else interested in the case travel to that location.”
In a separate hearing Tuesday, Ziyad T. Abid, the second defendant in the case, failed to have his bail reduced from a $2 million surety. Abid is also charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Whitworth.
Judge R. Michael Wagner, who now presides over both Singletary and Abid’s cases, said he spent considerable time looking over the case file and said Abid’s current bond amount is appropriate.
However, since the defense has already presented several reasons to lower the amount it could move to lower the amount again if new reasons come into play, Miller said.
Abid has not yet bonded out of the Johnson County Jail as of Wednesday evening, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s website.
Singletary is being held at the Johnson County Jail on a $1 million bond.
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.
Abid and Singletary appeared separately for arraignment Oct. 9. Both pleaded not guilty.
Abid’s next hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Johnson County Justice Center.