HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) – A Kansas City man who told police his Saudi Arabian roommate paid him to kill a central Missouri bar owner has been found guilty of first-degree murder and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Reginald Singletary, 28, also was convicted late Friday of armed criminal action in the Sept. 1, 2012, slaying of Blaine Whitworth, a Warrensburg businessman who was gunned down in his driveway, the Daily Star Journal of Warrensburg reported.
Singletary testified earlier Friday that he didn’t kill Whitworth, even though his roommate, Ziyad Abid, had wanted him slain. He said Abid was hanging around with gangster types, and that Singletary was afraid his ex-wife and their children would be harmed if he didn’t commit the crime.
Abid, a senior aviation student at the University of Central Missouri, spent nearly a year in jail on the same charges as Singletary after Singletary’s confession. Johnson County prosecutor Lynn Stoppy dropped the charges against Abid in August after Singletary changed his story and denied shooting Whitworth.
A Johnson County circuit judge set bond for Abid at $2 million, but after the Saudi government wired the money into the court clerk’s account, a different judge, Michael Wagner, refused to free Abid because he was concerned he would either flee the country or be deported.
Stoppy said Singletary’s conflicting claims forced her to drop charges against Abid.
“When my statement said a key witness changed his story, it was Singletary and you heard him on the stand today say, ‘I never shot him,”’ Stoppy said. “Without Reggie, we had no case on Abid.”
Three weeks after Stoppy dropped the charges, Abid flew home to Saudi Arabia.
In Singletary’s taped confession a day after Whitworth’s death, he described how Whitworth left the house and started his pickup truck before being shot three times in the back with hollow-point bullets. Singletary later directed investigators to where he buried the gun he used to shoot Whitworth.
“Everything that only the shooter would know. . Exactly where the gun was buried led them to it, turn by turn,” Stoppy said. “At the end of the day, the jurors saw right through it, they did the right thing, and we got the shooter.”
After the verdict, Whitworth’s parents said they were relieved that Singletary was being held responsible, although they didn’t think justice had been done in Abid’s part of the case.
“Many people have tragic things happen and they never find out who did it,” Diane Whitworth said. “At least there’s some peace in knowing that the person responsible is being held accountable.”
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