Bass Webb seeks to withdraw his guilty plea in death of ex-girlfriend

gkocher1@herald-leader.comAugust 15, 2012 

FALMOUTH — In a new twist to a 3-year-old homicide case, Bass Webb sought to withdraw his guilty plea to murder Wednesday, the day he was to be sentenced in the death of a Harrison County woman.

The latest development happened in Pendleton Circuit Court, where Webb, 32, was scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Jay Delaney.

The judge scheduled a hearing on the matter for Sept. 19 in Falmouth.

No reasons were given for Webb's desire to change his plea. Public defender Tom Griffiths declined comment after court.

Commonwealth's Attorney Doug Miller said the reasons for Webb's change of plea would be aired at the September hearing.

In some cases, a defendant will allege inadequate legal counsel, but it's not known if that is the case in this instance. Delaney did say he would appoint other legal counsel for Webb but did not discuss a reason.

In open court, Griffiths said only that Webb "has concerns" about his July 17 guilty plea to murder in the 2009 death of estranged girlfriend Bryia Runiewicz. That plea came on the day Webb was set to go to trial in Pendleton County. The trial had been moved there after a jury could not be seated last year in Harrison County because of pretrial publicity,

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

Had Webb been convicted by a jury, he could have faced the death penalty. But under the plea agreement, the recommended sentence was 50 years.

Relatives of Runiewicz were beside themselves after Wednesday's proceeding.

"We just figured he would make a mockery of the court," said Scott Darr of Georgetown, brother of Runiewicz.

"I figured he was going to figure out a way to foul this up. ... He's just trying to do anything he can to make a mockery of the court," Darr said. "I hope they take everything off the table and we sit in front of a jury. Life without parole would be a lot better."

Dora Clair, Runiewicz's mother, expressed disappointment.

"I honestly hoped and prayed that today was going to be the beginning of the end, but I can see it didn't happen that way," Clair said. "If he wants to play the yo-yo game with the court system, we'll be there for it. We might get whiplash along the road, but we're going to be there. We're not giving up."

Clair said Webb seems to enjoy being in control.

"The victims have no control over what goes on," she said. "The lawyers and the judge actually don't. He gets to say when it happens, what happens, where it happens. ... He holds all the strings."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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