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Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013

Saudi man leaves U.S. three weeks after Warrensburg murder charges are dismissed

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A former University of Central Missouri aviation student who was accused of paying his roommate to kill a Warrensburg bar owner is back home in Saudi Arabia, nearly three weeks after charges against him were dropped.

Ziyad Abid, 24, who spent 11 months in the Johnson County, Mo., jail without bond on first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges, flew out of Kansas City on Monday to Washington, D.C., defense attorney Pat Peters said. He left Washington on Tuesday and landed in Saudi Arabia early Wednesday.

“I think the immediate thing is, he wanted to and was expected to see his family,” Peters said. “That had been part of the ongoing stress while he was in jail, that he hadn’t seen his mom and family.”

Blaine Whitworth, a 25-year-old bar owner in the small university community of about 23,000 people, was shot to death in his driveway Sept. 1. Abid was arrested four days later after his roommate, Reginald Singletary Jr., told police he killed Whitworth, but Abid paid him to do it.

Prosecutors offered little evidence of Abid’s involvement other than Singletary’s statement, which defense attorneys claimed he made after being badgered by interrogators into pinning the crime on the Saudi.

Peters said he has never been involved in a case in which speculation posted on social media played such a significant role in shaping how it was handled. The rumors, including that Abid was a Saudi prince who had loaned Whitworth $50,000 and wanted his bar, didn’t make sense, he said.

“It is what we call our first Facebook case, where comments people would make took on evidentiary value,” Peters said. “When they were checked out, they just didn’t add up.”

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