Bond decision imminent in Abid case

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG) — After hearing from both the defense and the prosecution in Ziyad T. Abid’s case, Judge R. Michael Wagner recessed the hearing and announced he would make a ruling “very quickly”on whether or not he would allow Abid the chance to bond out of jail.
Abid is one of the two men awaiting trial in the murder case of Warrensburg bar owner William “Blaine” Whitworth.
Wagner asked both sides to cover six points: whether or not Abid is an unlawful alien, the chances of him being deported should he bond, whether the court has sufficient surety for Abid to bond, how a bondsman can prevent deportation, assurances that Abid will stay for his trial and whether or not he poses a threat to the community once he bonds out.
Patrick Peters, one of Abid’s attorneys, was the first to present to Wagner. He detailed the timeline of all the hearings related to bonding Abid out of jail, where he has been since his arrest in early September 2012. While talking about each of Wagner’s points, Peters highlighted Missouri Supreme Court rules on bond issues. Peters said that Abid entered the U.S. lawfully, but since his student visa has been revoked, he is now in the country unlawfully.
Abid is a former aviation student at the University of Central Missouri.
Peters also touched on Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policies when handling cases similar to Abid’s.
“The immigration courts give deference to the criminal courts,” he said.
He also volunteered testimony from two bondsmen that would give surety to the bond, a member of the Saudi consulate, and others to give Wagner enough evidence that Abid could bond out and not be sent to his native country upon release from Johnson County Jail. He also mentioned that all of Abid’s documents, including his passport, had already been forfeited to the court as part of the bond conditions set previously by Judge Jacqueline Cook.
When Johnson County Prosecutor Lynn Stoppy responded, she corroborated Peters’ assessment of Abid’s status as an unlawful alien. She did, however, disagree on Peters’ thoughts about his deportation, citing testimony from supervisory special agent Mark Fox, who testified at an earlier hearing, and conversations she’s had with ICE assistant director Todd Nay.
Stoppy said that both men told her that it’s ICE’s “mission” to remove unlawful aliens. She also said that upon Abid posting bond, it is the duty of the Johnson County Sheriff’s office to notify immigration authorities that he is no longer in their custody. She went on to say that ICE had put a retainer out on Abid.
Stoppy also said that she agrees with setting a bond for Abid.
“The state prefers no bail but agrees that Judge Cook made the best of a bad situation (with the conditions set with the bond),” she said.
After a brief statement, Wagner said that he would come to a decision about the bond “very quickly” and recessed the hearing. After a two-hour wait, Deputy Anthony Ludlam, one of the Johnson County deputies assigned to court security, said that a hearing would be scheduled for a later date for Wagner’s decision.
Attorneys for Abid filed a motion in appellate court May 25 to have Judge R. Michael Wagner removed. The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruled that Wagner will remain the judge. In early April, Wagner amended Judge 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 July 1, attorneys for Abid also filed a motion in limine to ask the court to instruct witnesses not to say things inadmissible to the courtroom. The exact wording is “often introduced by investigators and adopted by the witness rank speculation and cumulative rumor.” John Osgood, Abid’s attorney, clarified by saying witnesses shouldn’t be led on to say anything that could be either rumor or here-say and blurt something that’s inadmissible because it can’t be erased from what the jury hears.
Reginald L. Singletary, Abid’s roommate, is also charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Whitworth.
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