Loudoun Courtroom

The inside of a Loudoun County courtroom.

 On Thursday, Nov. 3, Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman dismissed charges of conspiracy to commit first degree murder against Abdul Waheed, who was accused of driving the person who fatally shot 57-year-old Najat Chemlali Goode in her Brambleton home.

Those charges were dismissed four days into a scheduled 10-day trial.

Waheed had originally been charged with being an accessory to murder before and after the fact, with investigators saying he drove the murder suspect, Furqan Syed, to and from the scene of the crime. In a preliminary hearing, they narrowed that to accessory after the fact. Just days before that trial was scheduled to begin, prosecutors dropped those charges, secured a direct indictment on a new charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and obtained a one-week delay in the trial because the lead prosecutor on the case was out with COVID-19.

Following the dismissal Thursday, Sheriff Michael Chapman using official county information channels attacked the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

“Our detectives, analysts, digital forensics examiners, and crime scene investigators poured their hearts and souls into this investigation, working countless hours to ensure that Najat’s family received justice. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office provided the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office with a detailed, thorough, and compelling case for trial.  We are extremely disappointed with the performance of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, especially regarding such a serious crime, and are heartbroken for her family,” Chapman stated. “Our community deserves better.”

In a written statement, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj stated, “Our office is disheartened by the outcome of the Waheed trial, but respect Judge Plowman’s ruling.  We will learn from this experience and continue to approach every case we handle with the utmost dedication and professionalism.  The Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is focused on protecting the community and will continue to be diligent in that endeavor.”

Prosecutors had called several witnesses over the past few days and had shown the jury video of Waheed being interrogated by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

During his interrogation, Waheed admitted to driving the suspected shooter to and from the scene but denied over and over he knew Syed was going to kill Goode. Waheed said he was asked by Syed to drive him to his girlfriend’s house on the night of Dec. 30, 2021. He said during video interrogation that Syed acted normally on the drive to and from Goode’s house.

When asked why he didn’t call police after he learned of the murder he said because he was “scared.” Police ended up contacting him three weeks after the murder when he was brought in for questioning.  

Syed, 40, is charged with first-degree murder, armed burglary, and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was arrested in Dubai by the Dubai Police Department and INTERPOL UAE following an international effort by the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Abu Dhabi Police, and Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office detectives. His trial is scheduled to begin in April 2023.

This story was updated Nov. 6 at 8:17 a.m. to include a statement from the Commonwealth's Attorney. 

(9) comments

2twotango

It's pretty clear that the Commonwealth Attorney's Office is out of their depth and it is a shame this happened. It is also shameful for the Sheriff to conduct himself in such a petty manner; invoking the victim's familys' suffering; in an effort to score political points. There is an old saying, "A new broom sweeps clean". How about voting out the incompetent CWA and the machiavellian Sheriff and starting over with a clean slate.

Tadpole

The fact that the assistant DA was sick is irrelevant. It’s not a one man shop, there certainly are other assistants present who could have made the filing in a timely manner. It all is under the poor supervision of one person.

timsmith

There's a lot about this case I don't understand. Why did Judge Plowman dismiss the charges against Abdul Waheed? Mr. Waheed appears to be heavily involved in the alleged murder. I realize a prosecutor was sick & may have missed deadlines. But does that mean Judge Plowman must dismiss the case against Mr. Waheed? Also, why is Sheriff Chapman once again using county resources to attack Buta Biberaj? Wouldn't it be more productive to join forces with the lady & fight crime? Please get over your dislike of Ms. Biberaj & do your job, Sheriff Chapman!

ace10

You're questioning the actions of the judge and law enforcement, rather than the prosecutor? Go read about the case. The CAs office failed to do THEIR JOB. The case fell apart when their failures led to limits being placed on testimony and evidence. This is very basic court procedure stuff. What should have been a slam dunk case, turned into a dismissal.

Buta Biberaj is more interested in posting political garbage on Twitter ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT LONG than seeking justice for the victims of crime.

She's a disgrace. She and her BEST BUDDY Jenny Wexton both need to go. We deserve better.

Jonathan

If you want actual news on the matter you'll have to find other sources than Loudoun Now. And once you find those other sources you will realize why the Sheriff was upset that he had to release someone apparently deeply involved in a murder here in Loudoun County.

maxq

Blaming Sheriff Chapman for his dislike of BB? Take off your "Democrats can do no wrong" hat and think critically - you obviously are smart. What would it take for you to see that the office of Commonwealths Attorney is a danger and change needs to take place to protect the citizens of Loudoun County?

WLoCoResident

How many times does it have to happen for you to see the problem is the Commonwealth's Office? Open your eyes, this is another example of mismanagement in the CA office. I agree with another poster, its time to call for her resignation and get someone competent in there that actually knows what they are doing!!!!

ace10

I think this outcome speaks for itself.

Another failure, heaped on top of a pile of failures.

Loudoun Democrats: it's time for you to step up and call for her resignation. This disaster has gone on MORE than long enough. Justice deserves a better guardian in this county.

Jonathan

Loudoun Now continues to cover for the CA's office and attack the LCSO.

What the author fails to mention is that charges were not filed in a timely fashion by the CA's office. Yet another major failing in the utterly incompetent office of the current CA.

Michelle L. Burton, a Loudoun County deputy commonwealth’s attorney, failed to meet deadlines to provide evidence and notification that a key witness would testify. Judge Plowman clearly indicated the failure was the CA's fault.

Yet another person implicated in a violent crime against a female person of color has been let go due to incompetence. Who will hold this office accountable for releasing yet another suspect back into the community?

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