WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- A man charged with murder has paid his bond, but remains behind bars. The victim's family says it's because of fears that the suspect could legally flee the country.
The case revolves around a Saudi man charged in a murder for hire case. Ziyad Abid is accused of paying another man to kill a Warrensburg bar owner. Abid posted a steep $2 million bond, paid for by the Saudi government, but he still remains behind bars by the judge's orders.
Abid's lawyers are asking a state appeals court to release Abid on bond saying Judge Michael Wagner's decision to keep Abid locked up is unconstitutional. The lawyers also want Wagner removed from the case, saying he may be biased at least in part because of Abid's nationality.
Last time Ziyad Abid was in court, Judge Wagner surprised everyone when he announced that he would not allow Abid out of jail, even though he met the conditions of the bond. Abid's defense attorney Pat Peters calls all this very strange.
"Everybody involved with the case has never seen this happen before," he said.
Prosecutors say Reginald Singletary killed popular Warrensburg bar owner Blaine Whitworth in September. But Singletary told police he did it because Abid paid him. The judge has indicated that because Abid is now here illegally, since the student visa is revoked, his fear is that if Abid is released he could be deported instead of facing these murder charges. That's a fear Whitworth's mother shares.
"If he chooses to go back to Saudi Arabia to be deported, I don't know what would happen," said Diane Whitworth.
Whitworth says this is clearly a problem with the system that needs to be fixed.
"Nothing is going to bring our son back, but we don't want it to happen to someone else," she said, "that anyone who comes to the U.S. and avails themselves of our educational system and if they commit any crime and they have the opportunity for the potential luxury to be deported before facing charges is wrong."
But Peters says in America, suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and are only held without bond if there's proof of a danger to society.
"And there's never been any suggestion my client is a danger to the community," he said, "we're at a loss."
Peters adds that he's been speaking to Abid's father about all this, who says he wants his son to go to court to prove his innocence. Abid's father told Peters he's always had faith in the American justice system, but now that faith is fading.