Prosecutor asks judge to halt Nunn evaluation

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comOctober 9, 2009 

Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson has asked a judge to halt the psychological evaluation of former state Rep. Steve Nunn, who is charged with murder in the death of his ex-fiancée.

Nunn was transferred Tuesday from the Fayette County Detention Center to the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation.

Nunn, 56, is accused of fatally shooting Amanda Ross on Sept. 11 in Lexington. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed Thursday, Larson asked Fayette Circuit Judge Tom Clark to stop the evaluation and return Nunn to Fayette County. He argued that it's premature to evaluate Nunn before his case is presented to a grand jury.

"Until an indictment is returned, it is unknown what the exact charges will be, and the evaluator clearly cannot determine if the defendant is criminally responsible," Larson said in his motion.

Clark has scheduled a hearing on the matter for 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Nunn's attorney, Astrida Lemkins, had filed a motion asking for the examination, and it was granted last month. That motion was not opposed by the Fayette County Attorney's office, which handled the case while Nunn was held in the Hart County Jail on six counts of wanton endangerment for allegedly firing a pistol near police officers in a cemetery on Sept. 11.

"He's accused of a hideous crime. I wanted to see what his mental state was," Lemkins said. Another factor in her request, Lemkins said, was that Nunn slit his wrist just before he was arrested.

Larson said in his motion that the psychiatric center had asked him to provide case materials for the evaluation, but he said that could not be done before the indictment.

Nunn is a former gubernatorial candidate and the son of the late Gov. Louie B. Nunn. Steve Nunn resigned his position as deputy secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services in March, after Ross successfully sought a domestic violence order of protection against him.

The Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange, where Nunn is being held, is a maximum-security prison operated by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The center provides pre-trial forensic evaluations to determine defendants' mental competency to stand trial. It also provides in-patient treatment for those convicted of felony offenses who are transferred from other institutions within the Department of Corrections.

Reporter Amy Wilson contributed to this story.

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