Nunn pleads not guilty

aclark@herald-leader.comSeptember 19, 2009 

Former State Rep. Steve Nunn pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of murder and violation of a protective order in the Sept. 11 shooting death of former fiancée Amanda Ross.

Nunn, 56, was arraigned by video in Fayette District Court. Fayette District Judge Joseph T. Bouvier scheduled Nunn's preliminary hearing for 8:30 a.m. next Friday. He did not set bond.

Nunn is being held in the medical mental health unit of the Fayette County jail, according to jail officials. He is under maximum observation and is in a cell by himself, said Sgt. Jennifer Taylor of the Fayette jail.

Nunn was transferred to the jail Thursday night from the Hart County jail. He had been held there since Monday on six counts of wanton endangerment for allegedly firing a .38-caliber pistol near police officers at the Hart County cemetery, where they found him on Sept. 11 with his wrists slit.

Hours earlier, Lexington police found Ross, 29, at 6:36 a.m. lying in the back corner of the parking lot at Opera House Square Town Homes on West Short Street. She died later that morning at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

The 2003 gubernatorial candidate originally was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Hart County on the wanton endangerment charges. But attorneys in the case agreed to postpone the arraignment until Dec. 7 so prosecutors in Lexington could proceed with the murder charges, said Brian Mattone, first assistant Fayette County attorney.

Nunn's bond on the wanton endangerment charges was amended from $57,000 cash to an unsecured bond, Mattone said.

Astrida Lemkins, the attorney who represents Nunn, said after Friday's arraignment that the wanton endangerment charges are "ludicrous" because Nunn tried to shoot the gun toward himself, not the police. The bullet missed Nunn's body but left a hole in his shirt, she said.

Lemkins said the police imposed the wanton endangerment charges to hold Nunn until Lexington police filed charges against him.

"It seems to me that the state police overreacted," she said.

Lemkins has said Nunn's life started to unravel when a judge granted Ross a domestic violence order against him. He resigned in March from his post as Gov. Steve Beshear's deputy secretary for Health and Family Services.

From that point on, Lemkins said, Nunn was treated negatively.

"The governor is from Fayette County. ... I've lived here 13 years and find it to be a very unforgiving community," she said.

Nunn has declined repeated requests for an interview.

Reach Ashlee Clark at (859) 231-1443 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1443.

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