Bass Webb to be tried in Fayette for a second spitting charge

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 22, 2013 

Bass Webb, who made headlines more than three years ago when he spat on a Central Kentucky judge, will go on trial Wednesday in Lexington for allegedly spitting on a Fayette County corrections officer.

Webb, 33, is charged with third-degree assault and with being a first-degree persistent felony offender. He is accused of spitting in the face of corrections officer Roy Compston at the Fayette County Detention Center on Feb. 2, 2011.

During a hearing Tuesday, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Bradbury sought to introduce evidence of a previous case in which Webb allegedly threw food trays and milk cartons at Compston. Webb was not charged in that case.

Kentucky rules of evidence allow previous bad acts to be introduced into evidence if they are offered as proof of motive, intent, preparation, plan or absence of mistake or accident. Bradbury said he wanted to introduce the incident with the trays as that proof. Webb's attorneys said he had intended to spit on the ground but hit Compston by mistake.

Public defender Jeremy Kemper said introduction of the bad act should be excluded and would serve no purpose other than "trying to inflame the jury."

Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell said the evidence "is not so similar in character that there is any kind of common scheme," and that it would be prejudicial. However, she said Bradbury could revisit the issue at trial.

Video of Webb spitting on Bourbon District Judge Vanessa Dickson during a hearing in August 2009 has been widely aired on television. He was indicted on a charge of intimidating a judicial officer; that case is pending in Bourbon County.

Given the nature of the charge to be tried Wednesday, public defender Tom Griffiths asked that Webb be returned to the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County rather than spend the night in the Fayette County Detention Center. Bunnell said Webb will spend the night in Fayette County.

Webb was sentenced in September to 50 years in prison for the 2009 death of his estranged girlfriend, Bryia Runiewicz, in Harrison County.

That sentence will be in addition to a 15-year sentence Webb received in March 2011 in Fayette County for assaulting a detention officer there.

Webb also is accused of murder in the death of Sabrina Marie Vaughn in Montgomery County. That trial is scheduled for April in Mount Sterling.

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

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