Bass Webb pleads not guilty to spitting on jail guard

bass webb facing 2 murder charges

jhewlett@herald-leader.comApril 16, 2011 

Bass Webb, who made headlines nearly two years ago when he spit on a Central Kentucky judge, pleaded not guilty Friday to an assault charge lodged against him after he allegedly spit on a jail guard.

Instead of appearing at a podium in front of the judge's bench — the usual procedure in Fayette Circuit Court — Webb, 31, stood next to his attorney just outside an inmate holding area to enter the not guilty plea before Judge Kimberly Bunnell. A court bailiff, holding a face mask, stood nearby.

Webb was charged with third-degree assault and with being a first-degree persistent felony offender after he was accused of spitting in the face of corrections officer Roy Compston at the Fayette County Detention Center on Feb. 2, said his attorney, public defender Craig Newbern. A Fayette County grand jury recently indicted Webb on those charges.

Webb was brought into Harrison Circuit Court wearing a mesh face mask last week. That appearance was in connection with a murder charge against him in the death of his former girlfriend, Bryia Runiewicz, 32, who was found dead in her home in Cynthiana on July 31, 2009. Harrison Circuit Judge Jay Delaney refused Newbern's request that the mask be removed during the hearing.

"He knows how to conduct himself in court," Newbern said after Friday's appearance in the Lexington court. Newbern said Webb has not exhibited the type of behavior he's accused of in meetings with him. The attorney said having Webb wear a mask in court is an unnecessary safeguard and could be prejudicial.

Video of Webb spitting on Bourbon District Judge Vanessa Dickson during a hearing in August 2009 has been widely aired on television.

Webb also is accused of murder in the death of former girlfriend Sabrina Marie Vaughn in Montgomery County.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month after being found guilty of felony assault and being a persistent felony offender in Fayette Circuit Court. That case resulted from Webb's throwing a telephone at corrections officer Bryan Richardson during a disturbance involving several prisoners at the Lexington jail in June. Richardson was not injured.

Webb is being held at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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