Steve Nunn's digital files searched

NUDE PHOTOS OF ROSS ON FLIERS

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comNovember 8, 2009 

Lexington police are tracing former state Rep. Steve Nunn's digital footprints as part of their investigation into the slaying of his ex-fiancée Amanda Ross, whom Nunn is accused of killing in September.

Specifically, police are looking to see whether Nunn kept a photo of a naked Ross on his cell phone, as witnesses have alleged, according to court documents. A judge had barred Nunn in July from having any nude photos of Ross as part of a domestic violence order against him.

While collecting evidence in Barren County shortly after Ross's death, police found fliers depicting Ross naked along with "insulting verbiage," according to an affidavit on a search warrant.

Those fliers, found in a home in Barren County, where Nunn had a home, "appeared to be designed for distribution," investigators said in another affidavit. The document doesn't give the address of the house where the photos were found.

Police are also checking for child pornography on Nunn's computers, according to another search warrant affidavit.

Those documents in the criminal case against Nunn offer new insight into the scope of the investigation since Ross's fatal shooting on Sept. 11. For example, the documents describe how police have sought e-mail and phone records not only to learn more about Nunn and Ross's troubled relationship but also to see if cell phone tower data could track Nunn's whereabouts on the day of Ross's slaying.

Police have charged Nunn, 57, in her death. The case is pending before a grand jury in Fayette County.

Ross, 29, was shot outside her Opera House Square townhouse in Lexington shortly after 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 11. Witnesses reported hearing Ross scream "no" in the parking lot, then heard four to five shots. They saw a man run away, according to court documents.

State police found Nunn hours later in a Hart County cemetery where his father, former Republican Gov. Louie B. Nunn, and mother, Beula, are buried. Nunn was holding a .38-caliber gun and fired it once into the air as six officers approached.

A Hart County grand jury last week indicted Nunn on six counts of wanton endangerment for waving the gun near the officers.

When the officers reached Nunn, they found he had cut his wrists.

The arrest warrant, signed Sept. 14, said he told a Kentucky State Police trooper that because of the domestic violence order, which Ross received against him in March, he had lost his job as deputy secretary of the Health and Family Services Cabinet and "was at the end of his rope and wanted revenge."

But he wouldn't answer questions about whether he killed Ross.

Most of the 10 search warrants issued in the first days after Ross's murder appear to be aimed at helping police understand more about Nunn's and Ross's relationship, the contact the two had with each other after the domestic violence order was issued and Nunn's computer habits.

Investigators are performing forensic computer analysis on laptop and desktop computers used by Nunn, as well as his cell phone, in search of digital files, "photographs and videos depicting the use of minors in a sexual performance," as well as e-mails, chat logs, instant messages or other communications that would show distribution of images depicting "any sexual performances," according to a Sept. 14 search warrant.

Nunn's attorney, Warren N. Scoville, couldn't be reached for comment.

On Oct. 1, police received Nunn's e-mail records from the Glasgow Electric Power Board, although the messages haven't been entered into the public record.

Police have also obtained e-mail correspondence between Ross and Nunn "where they discussed their relationship and acts of violence." Police had also been looking at a "string of e-mails between the couple on Feb. 3, 2009." That was around the time the relationship became particularly volatile, both Nunn and Ross testified in a March 4 court hearing.

Following Ross's death, police used a search warrant to confiscate Ross's Gateway laptop from her bedroom.

Investigators have worked to establish time lines for the whereabouts of both Nunn and Ross in the days before the murder.

In the hours after Ross was fatally shot, Lexington police issued search warrants for Bluegrass Cellular's records for Nunn's cell phone, including the cell tower information, to see whether Nunn's movements could be tracked.

A Sept. 18 affidavit for a search warrant requested the phone records of Lexington attorney Masten Childers II, a former state official and friend of the Ross family.

Childers told police that he and Ross were acquaintances and they had exchanged text messages throughout the evening before Ross's slaying.

"Mr. Childers had also received a text message from the victim at approximately 5:42 a.m. shortly before the shooting," the affidavit said.

Childers declined to comment Friday "out of respect for the family's privacy."

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409.

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