Nunn indicted on murder charge

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comaclark@herald-leader.comNovember 11, 2009 

A Fayette County grand jury indicted former state Rep. Steve Nunn on Tuesday for allegedly killing former fiancée Amanda Ross.

The grand jury also indicted Nunn for allegedly violating a domestic violence order of protection that Ross had received against Nunn in March. The indictment notes the violation is considered an "aggravating circumstance," which allows Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson to seek the death penalty if he chooses.

After the indictment, Larson declined to say whether he would seek the death penalty. "We will speak through our pleadings in this case," Larson said, referring to the court documents he will file.

Nunn will be arraigned in Fayette Circuit Court at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 19.

Court records indicate the grand jury heard from three witnesses Tuesday: Lexington police detective Todd Iddings and Nunn's two daughters, Mary and Courtney. Mary Nunn declined to comment to a reporter.

No bond will be set on the murder charge. A $25,000 cash bond was approved on the charge that Nunn violated a domestic violence order.

Ross, 29, was found shot the morning of Sept. 11 in front of her Opera House Square town house in downtown Lexington. She died later that morning at University of Kentucky Hospital.

Nunn, 57, was charged with murder four days later. He pleaded not guilty.

Hours after Ross's death, police discovered Nunn, the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, with his wrists slit in the Hart County cemetery where his parents are buried.

According to court documents, officers saw Nunn with a handgun when they arrived at the cemetery. They asked him to put down the gun, but it was fired in the area where the officers were standing.

Nunn was charged with six counts of wanton endangerment of a police officer. He was indicted on those charges last week by a Hart County grand jury.

Nunn is being held in the Fayette County jail. He has declined requests for comment.

After the indictment, Dale Emmons, a political consultant and Ross family spokesperson, praised local officials who investigated her death.

"Amanda's family and friends respect the job that the police department, the county attorney and the commonwealth's attorney in Fayette County have done investigating Amanda's death," Emmons said. "Out of respect for our system of justice, we are going to refrain from further comment at this time."

Warren N. Scoville, a London-based defense attorney representing Nunn, did not immediately return telephone messages Tuesday. In a September interview, before he was hired as Nunn's attorney, Scoville said it could be difficult to find an impartial jury.

"The coverage has made it virtually impossible for this man to get a fair trial in the Commonwealth of Kentucky," he said. "The only people you're going to get on a jury are people who don't read."

Lexington police have traced Nunn's digital footprints as part of their investigation into Ross's death. Officers are investigating whether Nunn kept a photo of a naked Ross on his cell phone, as witnesses have alleged, according to court documents.

A judge barred Nunn in July from having any nude photos of Ross as part of a domestic violence order against him. Nunn allegedly had fliers meant for distribution that depicted Ross naked and had "insulting verbiage," according to a search warrant affidavit.

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

Ross' slaying also has prompted action in the Kentucky legislature.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo pre-filed legislation called "Amanda's Bill" less than two weeks after Ross was killed. The proposal would allow judges to order electronic monitoring devices for the most dangerous domestic violence offenders.

Ross, who obtained a domestic violence protection order against Nunn in March, had told friends and co-workers in the days before her death that she feared for her life.

Nunn was forced to resign as deputy secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services after Ross was granted the domestic violence order of protection. Ross was a division director in the state insurance department.

In September, Ross's mother, Diana Ross, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court against Nunn. It alleges that Nunn stalked and threatened Ross for months leading up to the slaying. Depositions of Nunn's daughters are scheduled Dec. 18 in that case.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.

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