Change of Venue Sought in Whitworth Case
(ANDY LYONS, DigitalBurg.com) The two defendants in the case of a local bar owner who was shot and killed in his driveway will have a new judge and possibly a new venue.
Norman Craig Napier, assistant public defender, requested a change of venue Tuesday for one of the defendants, Reginald Singletary.
Tuesday’s hearing for the co-defendant, Ziyad Abid, was continued. The next hearing for Abid is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Abid and Singletary were charged Sept. 5 with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of William Blaine Whitworth. Whitworth was shot and killed in his driveway Sept. 1 at 1006 Sunflower on the east side of Warrensburg.
Judge Jacqueline Cook recently gave the case to Division 2 Circuit Judge R. Michael Wagner, in lieu of her term ending.
If a change of venue is granted, it is likely to move to Cass County because both Cass and Johnson counties are in the 17th Judicial District.
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 before Judge Cook for arraignment Oct. 9. Both pleaded not guilty.
Singletary is being held at the Johnson County Jail on $1 million bond.
Associate Court Judge Wanda Sue Dodson ruled Sept. 6 that Abid be held without bail, agreeing with Johnson County Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Stoppy that Abid was a flight risk.
He is an international student at UCM from Saudi Arabia.
University of Central Missouri criminal justice professor Dane Miller said the request for venue change is natural in case like this one.
“Changes of venue are common in cases that have created a lot of publicity in either direction. Such changes may avoid future problems when it comes to selecting a jury,” he said. “The separate divisions really does not play a major role.”
Singletary’s case review hearing before Judge Wagner is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 3.