Judge rules that Bass Webb murder trial must be moved

Media coverage of Bass Webb's case too widely known, judge rules

jhewlett@herald-leader.comDecember 13, 2011 

The capital murder trial of Bass Webb, accused of killing his girlfriend, Bryia Runiewicz, in 2009, will not be held in Harrison County.

Harrison Circuit Judge Jay Delaney, in an order issued Monday morning, said that extensive pretrial publicity had led him to decide that a change of venue was necessary.

Jury selection — individual voire dire — in the case began Dec. 1. The trial was expected to have begun Tuesday and continue through December, with time off for Christmas.

In his order, Delaney said that the majority of potential jurors had been exposed to information not only about the case but about other alleged criminal conduct concerning Webb.

"The nature and extent of the information possessed require that this trial be held in a different location," the judge said.

He scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday in Harrison Circuit Court to hear evidence and arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys on an appropriate location for the trial.

"We think it was the right decision to make," defense attorney Tom Griffiths said. "Many of the jurors had already had their minds made up. We did not think that we could seat an impartial jury in Harrison County."

Griffiths said the trial should be held outside the Fayette County media market.

Runiewicz, 31, was found dead in her home on July 31, 2009.

Webb has a criminal history going back as early as 2000.

Earlier this year, he was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder for trying to run over a pretrial officer and a deputy sheriff outside the Bourbon County jail in 2009. He received a 50-year prison sentence.

In March, Webb was found guilty of assaulting a Fayette County Detention Center officer and was sentenced to 15 years.

Webb also is accused of murder in the death of Sabrina Marie Vaughn in Montgomery County, whose skeletal remains were found in January 2010, seven years after she had gone missing. That trial is scheduled for April.

Webb received national attention after he spit in the face of Bourbon District Judge Vanessa Dickson during a hearing in August 2009.

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