A Cass County jury found 28-year-old Reginald Singletary, Jr., Kansas City, guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action following early Friday evening following a four-day trial.
Singletary was charged in the Sept. 1, 2012 murder of Garden City native Blaine Whitworth, 25. Whitworth died in the driveway of his Warrensburg home after Singletary fired three shots into his back.
Prosecutors described the 2005 graduate of Sherwood High School as a hard-working, successful business owner inside a Cass County courtroom during the trial. The case was moved to Harrisonville from Johnson County on a change of venue.
Before he was killed, Whitworth had became a well-known bar owner in Warrensburg.
Investigators say Singletary confessed to killing Whitworth, Initially he made claims that a University of Central Missouri student from Saudi Arabia had paid him to do it.
The case received international spotlight on the small university community when senior international aviation student Ziyad Abid, 24, was charged with the same crimes as Singletary and spent 11 months in the Johnson County Jail before prosecutors dropped the charges against him when a key witness stopped cooperating.
Abid had been arrested four days later after Singletary, who was also his roommate, told police he killed Whitworth, but Abid paid him to do it.
According to the Associated Press, 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.
Abid remained jailed for some time even though the required $2 million had been posted for his bond by the Saudi government.
Twice, Judge Michael Wagner denied Abid’s release on grounds he could be a flight risk or deported by the federal government before trial.
The case took a sudden twist when prosecutors dropped all charges against the Saudi national in August 2013 while Singletary remained in jail.
Throughout the trial, the jury heard from police who responded to the murder scene, criminal investigators, the medical examiner who performed Whitworth’s autopsy, along with friends of Whitworth, including his former bar manager, 25-year-old Kenneth “Tyler” Werle.
Werle said Singletary had worked at Whitworth’s bar, Molly’s, since May 2012.
According to investigators, Whitworth was shot on a Saturday night at his home at around 9:30 p.m.
Whitworth had been working at his bar, Molly’s. earlier in the day, and was planning to return later in the evening to bartend.
Werle said he had last seen Whitworth at the bar at around 8 p.m.
The last thing Whitworth said to his friend that evening was, “See ya later, brother.”
At around 10 p.m., Werle began to wonder why Whitworth hadn’t shown back up at the bar.
“He was never not there,” said Werle, of Whitworth being at the bar on weekend nights.
Werle tried contacting Whitworth by phone to no avail. A group of girls came into the bar later in the night, at around 12:30 a.m. Sept. 2, and said that they had heard Whitworth had been shot, which was later confirmed to be true.
Within a matter of days, Singletary admitted to shooting Whitworth, and led detectives to the murder weapon that was buried in a commuter lot in Higginsville.
Upon sentencing, scheduled for June 16 in Johnson County, Singletary could face a life sentence at a Missouri Department of Corrections facility without the possibility of parole.