Appellate court denies motion to remove judge

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG) – The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals has decided that R. Michael Wagner will remain the judge in the trial of Ziyad T. Abid.
Attorneys for Abid, who is one of the two men awaiting trial in the murder case of Warrensburg bar owner William “Blaine” Whitworth, filed a motion in appellate court May 25 to have Wagner removed. In early April, Wagner amended Judge Jacqueline Cook’s prior order allowing Abid a chance to bond out of the Johnson County Jail, where he has been held since Sept. 5, 2012. Wagner denied Abid bond.
On Wagner’s decision to order no bond in the case, University of Central Missouri criminal justice professor Dane Miller was able to provide insight on bond issues in general.
“Some cases represent the troubling tension in the law between a defendant’s right to release on bail and reasonable conditions thereof, and the state’s right to assure the defendant’s return to court,” he said.
Johnson County Prosecutor Lynn Stoppy and Wagner declined to comment on the case.
Rumors have swirled in Warrensburg regarding what would happen if Abid was allowed bond. One of the most popular rumors is that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents would take him into custody and deport him to his home country of Saudi Arabia.
Abid is also a former UCM student. He and Reginald L. Singletary, Abid’s roommate, were charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Whitworth’s death.
John R. Osgood, one of Abid’s attorneys and a former federal prosecutor, said his client would not be deported.
“That is not going to happen and is nonsense,” Osgood said. “The U.S. government will not let that happen.”
Although he couldn’t comment on the case specifically since Abid is still in state custody, ICE public affairs officer Shawn Neudauer offered insight into the agency’s policies.
“We handle these situations on a case-by-case scenario,” he said. “It’ll be determined by what the person in question has going on as far as charges go. Once the person is out of state custody then ICE gets involved. The court here doesn’t know what immigration court is going to do so it has reason to be wary (about setting a bond).”
Wagner and attorneys for Abid set the trial for Aug. 20-23. A pretrial conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. July 15. A jury will be transported from Jackson County to the Johnson County Justice Center for the trial.
In court filings from April 9, Johnson County Prosecutor Lynn Stoppy presented the state’s trial evidence, which includes an autopsy report of Whitworth, crime scene photographs, phone records and a recorded interview of Abid.
According to court records, the state has filed a list of 44 witnesses for Singletary’s trial.
He has a pretrial conference scheduled for Aug. 5. His trial is set to begin Sept. 17 in the Division II courtroom at the Johnson County Justice Center.
Singletary is being held at the Johnson County Jail on a $1 million bond. He told police after he was arrested that he shot Whitworth with a handgun in exchange for money, according to court records.
Andy Lyons is the managing editor of the UCM student newspaper, The Muleskinner. Follow him on Twitter at