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French enters guilty plea


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

The man who helped Bass Webb dispose of the dead body of Sabrina Marie Vaughn pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence last Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors are recommending that Jonathan French be sentenced to two years in prison with no recommendation as to diversion.

A diversion program is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program, which will help remedy the behavior leading to the original arrest, and avoid conviction and a criminal record.
The Office of Probation and Parole will prepare a pre-sentence investigative report for the judge to consider before rendering a sentence.

Formal sentencing will take place 1 p.m. Friday, July 14, before Circuit Judge Beth Maze.

At Bass Webb’s trial in April, French’s ex-girlfriend, Kristal Bussell, testified claiming, that she, French, Vaughn and Webb had been drinking at Bussell’s apartment in Jeffersonville Dec. 19, 2003, when she and French left to go French’s home, leaving Vaughn and Webb alone in her apartment.

Later, she testified, Webb came to French’s home and the three went back to Bussell’s apartment, where she claimed they found Vaughn’s lifeless body in the living room floor.

Prosecutors said Vaughn was strangled to death. A motive was never given for the slaying.

French, 39, of Owingsville, testified that he and Webb then transported the body to Powell County, where he claims Webb dug the hole and dumped the body. French later came forward and led authorities to the remains.

Vaughn’s remains were found in a shallow grave on Echo Hollow Road in Powell County Jan. 14, 2010.

Webb was convicted of Vaughn’s murder during a two-week trial and sentenced to life in prison. The death penalty was not an option in the case.

Webb is also serving a 50-year sentence in the 2009 murder of Bryia Runiewicz of Harrison County. Webb will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
Both Vaughn and Runiewicz were ex-girlfriends of Webb’s.