Judge maintains denial of bail in murder case

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Judge R. Michael Wagner filed an order Monday afternoon to deny bond for Ziyad T. Abid. It was also decided Monday during an earlier hearing to move Reginald L. Singletary’s jury trial date to early 2014.
Both men are charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Warrensburg bar owner William “Blaine” Whitworth.
The bond decision was not discussed by Wagner during Monday’s hearing, and comes almost two weeks after a bond hearing July 2 where Wagner concluded the hearing saying he would make a decision about the bond “very quickly.”
Defense attorney John Osgood said the defense will probably appeal the bond decision, but because of limited resources, their focus is now on the upcoming trial.
Assistant Attorney General David Hansen, who has joined the prosecution at the request of prosecutor Lynn Stoppy, filed a motion for continuance last week for Abid’s trial. Hansen said a continuance would allow the attorney general’s office time to fully prepare.
Defense attorney Patrick Peters requested to deny the continuance, emphasizing the fact that Abid has already been in jail for more than 300 days.
Wagner said the court had several concerns regarding the motion for continuance, including coordinating schedules for using the Jackson County Courthouse for jury selection and that the trial date had previously been agreed to by the state. He also agreed with Peters, saying that because “the defendant has been incarcerated for some time, we must do it swiftly.”
Because of the court’s concerns, Wagner overruled the state’s motion for continuance. Abid’s trial is set to begin Aug. 20 at the Johnson County Justice Center. Jury selection will start in two weeks and will be at the Jackson County Courthouse. The jury will then be transported to Johnson County for the trial.
The defense also filed a request for speedy trial Monday morning, as well as a request to disqualify “the Missouri attorney general and any member of his staff from participating as counsel in this case.”
“We filed the motion that the attorney general should be disqualified or the judge should get off the case because the attorney general represents Wagner in  our appeal, so it creates a conflict of interest,” Osgood said.
Wagner gave Hansen the opportunity to file a response to the motion to disqualify by Friday. A hearing is set for July 29 to review the motion.
During a motion hearing for Singletary Monday morning, it was decided to move the pretrial hearing to Jan. 6, 2014. The jury trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 4, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. at the Johnson County Justice Center. His trial was previously set to begin Sept. 17.
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 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.
During Abid’s bond hearing July 2, Peters volunteered testimony from two bondsmen who 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 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 Cook.
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.