Saudi student freed after criminal charges in Missouri dropped | St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

A Missouri college student is free of all charges and was able to walk out of jail as a free man for the first time in a year. 24-year-old Ziyad Abid from Saudi Arabia was accused of being involved in the shooting death of a local bar owner, but all charges have been dropped and Abid was released Friday.

Change in testimony sets Abid free

Abid was preparing to enter his senior year at University of Central Missouri when he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. To the surprise of law officials working with Abid, his case gained international attention when the Saudi government decided to post the $2 million bail. Relations grew tense when a Missouri judge denied the bail and refused to release him calling Abid a “flight risk”.

Kansas City prosecutor, Lynn Stoppy, announced that the case was dismissed and Abid was set free last Friday. Due to a change in Missouri law, Abid was no longer able to be held in custody. “Very recently, our understanding of evidence previously obtained from a critical witness has changed. As a result, the state is currently left without sufficient evidence to support the prosecution at this time,” she said in an email. According to court documents, Abid’s Roommate, Reginald Singletary Jr., admitted to killing the bar owner named Blaine Whitworth. He also told investigators that Abid paid him to do it. Abid’s attorneys quickly dismissed Singletary’s claim saying that no hard evidence actually joined Abid to the death. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster joined the case a month ago and confirmed there was not enough evidence against Abid.

Abid’s student visa revoked

Some critics are unconvinced about Abid’s innocence, but because of the lack of concrete evidence, he must be set free. “First-degree murder is the most serious offense that the State can charge. We have an ethical obligation to dismiss a case once it becomes clear that the evidence presently available to the prosecution is not sufficient to proceed,” Koster said. Currently Singletary remains in jail on a $1 million bond on the same charges. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took Abid into custody temporarily after Stoppy dropped the charges since his student visa has been revoked when he could not attend classes in jail. Abid was set to come before an immigration judge and was released later according to ICE.

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.