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Nunn Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Life

A former Kentucky state lawmaker has pleaded guilty to murder for shooting his ex-fiance and was sentenced to life without parole.

An attorney for former Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Nunn said the son of former Kentucky Governor Louis B. Nunn entered the plea Tuesday in Fayette County court.

Nunn could have faced the death penalty if he’d been convicted in a trial that was scheduled to start in August. He was charged in the death of 29-year-old Amanda Ross, who was shot outside her Lexington home in September 2009.

Police arrested Nunn not long after Ross was found dead. He was apprehended in a cemetery near his parents’ graves and police said he slit his wrists and fired one shot at troopers before surrendering.

In 2003, Nunn unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor, but lost to then-U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher, who went on to become the first Republican governor since Nunn’s father served in 1967.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, who was a friend of Ross’ family, says he hopes this brings closure to the case and that new legislation will protect victims of domestic violence in the future.

“I continue to move forward to implement Amanda’s Law in the hope that we will not see anything like this repeated in the future,” says Stumbo. “I strongly encourage the courts to use this law in the appropriate situations, because it’s now clear that it could have a made a difference for Amanda. We need to make sure that it does make a difference for anyone else who worries for their lives.”

Additional information from the Associated Press

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In-Depth News

"Amanda's Bill" Moving Through General Assembly

Amanda’s Bill, which is designed to strengthen domestic violence laws in Kentucky, has moved another step closer to final passage. Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh is tracking the bill’s progress.

Last year, on September 11th, 29-year old Amanda Ross was gunned down outside her Lexington townhouse. Police immediately began searching for her ex-fiancée, Steve Nunn, against whom Ross had taken out a domestic violence order. Hours later, police found Nunn at his parents’ graves in Hart County. He was brandishing a 38-caliber handgun, and had slit his wrists. Nunn, the son of former Gov. Louie Nunn, now awaits trial for Amanda Ross’ murder.

Later that month, House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced plans to introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly allowing judges to order the use of GPS tracking devices to monitor the whereabouts of individuals in some domestic violence cases. Stumbo says it’s personal with him because he knew Amanda Ross, who had worked for state government.

“We’ve known her family and her for a number of years,” says Stumbo. “She was what all of us would want to see in our daughters. She was well educated. She was vibrant. She was full of ideas. She loved politics. She was just a person that you would never believe would have this happen to them.”

Last week, at the urging of Amanda Ross’ mother, Diana Ross, House Bill One, or Amanda’s Bill, easily cleared the House Judiciary committee.

“We recognize that nothing we can do will bring back Amanda,” says Ross. “We find Amanda’s Bill to be a common sense approach to enhance the ability of other victims to find needed protections.”

Relinquishing his gavel Tuesday, to speak on the bill on the House floor, Speaker Stumbo told his colleagues it took the tragedy of 9-1-1 to show us that the nation’s defense systems can be breached.

“It took the tragedies of this last 9-1-1 to show us that there is technology available and a system that we can get in place in Kentucky to provide that extra level of protection in these very, very, very severe and serious cases,” says Stumbo.

And Stumbo says it’s time to put that technology, which he says is relatively inexpensive, to work in Kentucky.

“A judge can look and know exactly where these people are,” says Stumbo. “The judge will be able to know then the conduct and behavioral patterns of these individuals as it relates to the situations that they’re in. The court will be able, as we talked about, to protect people who need to be protected.”

“Have all members voted?” says Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark. “Roll call machine showing 97 Ayes, no Nays. House Bill One with House committee substitute one and amendments one, two and three is passed.”

Reaction to the House vote was immediate. Darlene Thomas is with the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program in Lexington.

“We’ve believe it’s a very good start and find a lot of promise that it’ll help domestic violence victims throughout the state,” says Thomas. “We’ll work closely with its implementation the best we can – as far as the domestic violence association and local programs.”

Ross family friend Dale Emmons says the unanimous House vote is a victory for everyone in the commonwealth.

“You know, we do everything we can to protect lives and give people the assurance of personal safety when they find themselves in this situation,” says Emmons. “It’s traumatic for everyone. And if we can prevent violence and prevent incarcerations, and save money at the same time, I think that’s a win-win for everyone.”

The bill now moves to the Senate.

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Amanda's Bill is HB1 in Kentucky General Assembly

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Amanda’s Bill is House Bill One in the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly.

Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the measure, named for Amanda Ross, who was gunned down outside of her Lexington home last September. Former Rep. Steve Nunn is charged with her murder.

Cleveland, Ohio, resident Debbie Riddle says her sister, Peggy Klinke, suffered a similar fate in January, 2003.

“Her life was taken at the hands of this man who had stalked her for a year,” says Riddle, “a man who navigated the system so well he was able to relentlessly stalk her for 365-days under the full knowledge of the criminal justice system.”

Riddle, a national activist on the issue of stalking, says Amanda’s Bill possibly could have saved her sister’s life.

The measure would allow electronic monitoring of some domestic violence offenders. Before her murder, Amanda Ross had taken out a domestic violence order against Steve Nunn.

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Nunn Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Charge

From Stu Johnson,  Kentucky Public Radio/WEKU, Richmond

Former Kentucky state lawmaker Steve Nunn has pleaded not guilty to the September murder of his former fiance.

The 57 year old Nunn is accused of fatally shooting 29 year old Amanda Ross outside her Lexington apartment.

His attorney entered pleas of not guilty Thursday to charges of murder and violating a domestic violence protective order. NunnMugShot

Fayette County Commonwealth’s attorney Ray Larson would not say if he’ll seek the death penalty for Nunn.

“I think it’s better to pay attention to the file, the court file, because we’ll be filing appropriate notices at some point,” Larson said.

Nunn’s attorney, Warren Scoville, declined to comment after his client’s arraignment.

Nunn also faces a wanton endangerment charge in Hart County related to the case.

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Nunn Moved To Psychiatric Unit

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Accused murderer Steve Nunn of Glasgow, Kentucky, has been moved from the Fayette County Jail for psychiatric evaluation.   

Former Kentucky lawmaker Steve Nunn is now housed in the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange.  The  Courier-Journal says Nunn, who’s accused of killing former fiancée Amanda Ross, was moved to the facility on Tuesday. 

Nunn’s attorney Astrida Lemkins sought the psychiatric evaluation, which was not opposed by the Fayette County Attorney’s office.  Fifty-six year old Nunn is accused of gunning down Ross on September 11th outside the woman’s Lexington townhouse.  Nunn has pleaded Not Guilty. 

 The murder case is under consideration by a Fayette County grand jury, which to date has issued no indictment. 

A hearing on a motion by Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson to have Nunn returned to Fayette County until any indictment is returned is scheduled for Friday morning.

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GPS Monitoring Proposed for Domestic Violence Orders

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Another level of protection for alleged victims of domestic violence is at the heart of legislation to be offered this week by Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

When Amanda Ross was murdered on September 11th in Lexington, a domestic violence order was in place against Steve Nunn, the man accused of killing her.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo believes legislation he will introduce Thursday could have saved Ross’ life.

“It will set up a system of GPS electronic monitoring which can be used as protection for people like Amanda Ross,” says Stumbo, “so that they will know that there’s areas that they can be safe in.”

Stumbo says he has permission from the family to call the legislation the Amanda Ross bill.

He says monitoring devices are already used in DVO cases in around 14 other states. Stumbo says the person wearing the device would have to cover any costs associated with the monitoring.

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In Depth: Ex-Lawmaker Steve Nunn Facing Murder Charge

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

 

He’s the son of a former Kentucky governor. He grew up in the governor’s mansion, went to college, raised a family and built a successful political career of his own. But now,  Steve Nunn is charged with murder.

In 1990, Republican Steve Nunn was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, where he served for 16 years. He quickly gained a reputation as a moderate, an advocate for the poor and needy, a man of compassion and sensitivity on issues like mental illness and domestic violence. Here he is in the 2005 session, urging his colleagues to boost funding for Medicaid. NunnMugShot

“We have to step up and have the courage in this session to do what is required of us as elected officials to meet this challenge,” said Nunn.

Throughout Nunn’s House tenure, he worked closely with Sheila Schuster of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition.

“We considered him, from the standpoint of advocacy for people with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, mental retardation, physical handicaps, he was absolutely our go-to legislator,” said Schuster.

But in 2003, Nunn’s life began to change. Instead of successes, he began suffering a series of setbacks. He ran for governor and lost, coming in third in the Republican primary won by Ernie Fletcher. In January 2004, his father – former Gov. Louie B. Nunn – died. At services in the Capitol rotunda, Nunn called his dad “the John Wayne of Kentucky politics.”

“Always doing what he thought was right, never afraid to take a stand,” said Nunn. “His courage, conviction and leadership are the likes that are seldom seen in this Kentucky State Capitol.”

After his father’s death, Nunn plunged into a deep depression, says his second wife, Tracey Damron. The couple eventually divorced. In 2006, Nunn was defeated for re-election to the House by Democrat Johnny Bell. Nunn rebounded in 2007, when he was named an undersecretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. But earlier this year, he resigned the post after being charged in a domestic violence case. Last Friday, the woman at the center of the case, 29-year old Amanda Ross, was shot dead outside her Lexington townhouse. Hours later, police found Steve Nunn at his parents’ graves in Hart County. He was brandishing a .38-caliber handgun and had slit his wrists. Arrested on six counts of wanton endangerment, Nunn was treated for his wounds and jailed. By Monday, Lexington Police Lt. Douglas Pape was being barraged with calls from reporters, wanting to know if 56-year old Nunn was the primary suspect in the murder of Amanda Ross.

“There’s no predetermined conclusion,” said Pape. “We’re investigating it diligently. I really couldn’t say where it’s going, because it will go where the investigation takes us.”

But late Monday night, with Nunn facing the possibility of bailing out of jail the next morning, Lexington Police charged him with murder and violation of a protective order. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Nunn’s former colleagues in the House were stunned. Louisville Rep. Jim Wayne called the developments “incomprehensible.”

“I’ve known him as a tremendous, caring man who was able to work legislation very effectively here and achieved a great deal as a legislator,” said Wayne. “So, it’s a tragic day for all of us that know him as a caring man.”

In the days since the murder, family and friends of Amanda Ross have come forward to tell her story. A dog lover, who was called articulate, outgoing, smart and successful, Ross was a division director in the state Department of Insurance. She’s now buried in the Lexington cemetery. Steve Nunn awaits arraignment for her murder.

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Nunn's Former Colleagues Shocked By His Arrest

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Lawmakers who served with Steve Nunn in the Kentucky House of Representatives are reacting to the murder charge leveled against their former colleague from Glasgow. 

In the House, former representative Steve Nunn was known for his compassion and sensitivity on issues like domestic violence.  For Nunn to now be charged with murder is incomprehensible to Louisville Rep. Jim Wayne, who worked closely with Nunn on many social issues. 

“What this points to is a serious concern about something that may have happened to him, in terms of his personality – whether there’s something neurological or chemical or some type of substance abuse – that may have altered his behavior and his judgment,” Wayne said.

Wayne and other House members who worked with Nunn say the man now charged with murder is not the man they thought they knew.  The lawmakers also expressed deep regret to the family of Amanda Ross, the young woman allegedly gunned down by Nunn last Friday in Lexington.

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Steve Nunn Charged With Murder

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Former Kentucky legislator Steve Nunn of Glagow is now charged with last Friday’s murder of his former fiancée.    NunnMugShot

With Steve Nunn facing the possibility of posting a cash bond today and obtaining release from jail, Lexington Police last night announced they’re charging Nunn with murder.  He’s accused of gunning down 29-year old Amanda Ross, Friday morning, outside her Lexington townhouse.  Lt. Douglas Pape tells Kentucky Public Radio authorities are continuing to gather evidence in the case. 

“We’re following up on every lead as diligently and quickly as we can,” he said.

Warrants charging Nunn with murder and violation of a protective order have been served on Nunn, who remains in the Hart County Jail.  He was taken there yesterday after being released from a Bowling Green hospital, where he was treated for self-inflicted wounds to his wrists.  Nunn was arrested Friday at a Hart County cemetery where his parents are buried.  Nunn’s father was former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn.

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Former State Rep. Nunn Moved To Hart County Jail

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Lexington Police are waiting to question former Kentucky representative Steve Nunn about the murder of Nunn’s former fiancée, Amanda Ross.  The twenty-nine year old Ross was gunned down Friday morning outside her Lexington townhouse. 

Lexington Police Lt. Doug Pape won’t say if Nunn is considered a suspect in the case.

 “I’m not really prepared to make any comments in reference to a suspect in this case.  There’s no pre-determined conclusion.  We’re investigating it diligently.  I really couldn’t say where it’s going because it will go where the investigation takes us.  At this point, it is still ongoing and we don’t make many comments in reference to an ongoing investigation.”

Nunn was arrested at his parents’ graves in Hart County, hours after Ross’ murder.  He’s charged with six counts of wanton endangerment for allegedly brandishing a 38-caliber handgun at police.  Before being jailed, Nunn was briefly hospitalized for self-inflicted wrist wounds.