Bourbon jail officer testifies of 'terror' as Bass Webb almost hit him with SUV

driver on trial for attempted murder

jkegley@herald-leader.comMay 17, 2011 

PARIS — Confusion and terror were two words used by a Bourbon County officer describing to a jury how he felt the day Bass Webb almost hit him with a mini SUV.

Webb sat quietly while Josh Mason, a pretrial officer at the Bourbon County jail, testified that he had just reported to work in July 2009 when he noticed Webb's red Geo Tracker barrelling toward him.

He first thought one of his buddies was playing a joke, trying to scare him. Then he realized the vehicle was not going to stop.

Mason jumped out of the way, but Deputy Sheriff Ryan Barkley didn't make it, and one of his legs was pinned between the Tracker and a jail wall.

Barkley, slumped over the hood, was screaming, he said.

"I thought it crushed him from his waistline down," Mason told jurors.

The vehicle's tires were spinning, "chirping on the sidewalk," he said, and Mason thought the driver had a medical emergency. But Barkley screamed, "It's Bass Webb."

Officers knew Webb from his stints at the Bourbon County jail.

Webb's problems with authority became famous after videos of him spitting on a judge were broadcast on the Internet and TV. Webb also has been accused of spitting on a Fayette County jail officer and was convicted of assault for an incident in which he ripped a phone from the wall and threw it at an officer.

Monday was the first day of Webb's trial on two counts of attempted murder stemming from the 2009 crash.

Police said Webb tried to run down Mason and Barkley, who were standing outside the jail's secure garage where police unload prisoners. Webb then sped off, and police arrested him 4 miles away when his Tracker caught fire.

Webb then told police he had killed his ex-girlfriend in Cynthiana. State police later found the body of Bryia Runiewicz, 32, in a home on New Lair Road.

Webb also is accused of killing former girlfriend Sabrina Marie Vaughn in Montgomery County.

Neither of those killings, which resulted in a murder charge in each county, was at issue Monday. Webb was being tried solely for the crash in Bourbon County.

Before Mason took the stand, Commonwealth's Attorney Gordie Shaw told jurors that prosecutors would try to prove Webb attempted to use the vehicle as a weapon.

Public Defender Craig Newbern, one of Webb's attorneys, said he agreed that Webb crashed into the wall and injured Bartley.

But Webb is not guilty of attempted murder, he said. Newbern asked jurors to find him guilty of felony assault, which carries a lighter sentence. He said there was no indication Webb's actions that day were calculated and that Webb might have been intoxicated.

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