Defense attorney: client’s fatal stabbing of another Sebastopol teen in 2018 was self-defense

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There is no doubt the killing of 19-year-old Cory Vaughn during a fight that broke out after last year’s Sebastopol Apple Blossom Parade involved fear, anger and violence.

But in the trial against his accused assailant Anthony Ibach, who was 18 when he dealt a fatal swipe with a knife, a Sonoma County jury heard clashing arguments about which young man was the instigator and which man acted out of fear for his life.

The murder trial began Friday with opening statements by the prosecution and defense that alluded to a disagreement between the two young men yet avoided a direct explanation of their dispute.

The unspecified problem was enough to cause Ibach to drive to a parking lot just before noon April 21, 2018, across the street from a party at an apartment where Vaughn and other acquaintances were celebrating, Deputy District Attorney Chris Brown said. Ibach called people at the party, prompting Vaughn and four others to come outside, Brown said.

Ibach, who is now 19, was ready “to take out his anger and resolve an issue he had with Cory Vaughn,” Brown said.

They squared up and Ibach slashed Vaughn with a knife in an incident partially recorded on a Snaphat video, the prosecutor said. He died at the scene.

“You will see on video there was so much force that it actually lifted Cory off his feet,” Brown said to the jurors.

Ibach’s attorney told the jury that while Ibach wanted to address his problem with Vaughn outside the party, he hadn’t planned on being surrounded by Vaughn and about four other men.

Defense attorney Joe Bisbiglia told jurors they would hear testimony from an uninvolved witness in his car at the parking lot shared by the Gravenstein Grill and other businesses who said he saw “four or five young men walking angrily toward Anthony.”

Surrounded, Ibach “was standing his ground, yelling at the top of his lungs, ‘Back up! Back the f---ck up!’ ” Bisbiglia said.

Describing the dispute between Ibach and Vaughn as “kid stuff,” Bisbiglia told jurors that “the thing that escalated kid stuff was Cory Vaughn.”

Vaughn was a 2016 graduate of Analy High School, a youth football player and the eldest child of Alan and Sharon Vaughn of Sebastopol.

His parents, who wept when the prosecutor played the frantic 911 call from a female friend of Vaughn’s after he was stabbed, and two younger sisters attended the start of trial Friday. His family declined to comment outside the courtroom.

After stabbing Vaughn, Ibach ran back to his car and fled. Prosecutors said Ibach drove to a friend’s house in Santa Rosa, changed clothes and headed to San Rafael in a different car. He gave a false name to a police officer who, unrelated to the case, contacted him there, Brown said. The San Rafael officer later saw a bulletin from Sebastopol police about the stabbing and recognized Ibach, which helped police to apprehend him about 6 p.m. the day of the stabbing.

Bisbiglia said Ibach acted in self-defense because he was scared after an incident months earlier when he saw Vaughn attack someone else. He told jurors Ibach fled out of fear.

Brown said Ibach’s actions were “borne out of anger.”

The trial continues next week.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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