TV show, planned book put Steve Nunn case back in spotlight

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 12, 2012 

FRANKFORT — On Valentine's Day this year, Tracey Damron got a card from convicted murderer Steve Nunn.

The former state lawmaker and son of the late Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn has written to his former wife several times since he pleaded guilty last June to the 2009 murder of his former fiancée, Amanda Ross.

Damron, who was married to Nunn from 1996 to 2006, initially replied to his cards and letters from prison, where he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, but not in recent months.

"I still love Steve Nunn the man," she said Monday in an interview. "I don't know Steve Nunn the murderer."

Damron is one of several people connected to the murder case that rocked Kentucky who have talked with ABC for its Revenge for Real news series, which has scheduled a segment called "The Governor's Son" for 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Others who have spoken with ABC include Ross' mother, Diana Ross, and Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson.

ABC journalist Chris Cuomo said Revenge for Real will tell the story of Nunn "crossing the line from someone who didn't meet expectations ... to someone who wound up being a killer."

Damron, who is working with true-crime author Corey Mitchell of Texas on a book about Nunn, describes most of her marriage to Nunn as "a fairy-tale experience."

Damron said she was proud to bring Nunn closer to his father, a larger-than-life political figure in Kentucky politics, after they spent 15 years not speaking to each other. But Steve Nunn changed after his father died in January 2004, she said.

The couple moved into the governor's Pin Oak Farm near Versailles, a place Damron said is "like the place with the hauntings in The Shining."

"Steve began to exhibit very odd behavior," she said. "He started to sleep in his father's bed, wearing his clothes. He spoke in a voice that resembled his father's and he became very controlling and manipulative.

"He would tell our friends and me that he was Louie B. Nunn, while smashing his fist down on his father's desk in his father's office and shouting, 'I am Louie B. Nunn.'"

Damron now says she thinks Nunn was "possessed."

"It was almost as if the ghost of his father, or some other entity, had taken up residence inside my husband and had consumed his personality, his soul, his life," she said.

Damron said she started keeping a journal, in which she referred to her changed husband as "Ronnie." The name had no particular significance: "I just couldn't refer to him by the name of the man I loved," she said.

"Ronnie" started hating women, Damron said.

"He called me names to my face. He started collecting negative pictures of women," she said. "He grabbed me by the neck one time and wanted to know what I was doing to break us up."

The couple divorced in 2006.

On Monday, the gun and bullets used in the fatal shooting of Ross were displayed publicly for the first time in response to a request by ABC under the Open Records Act.

While gathering material for the show, producers asked to see the gun and bullets, city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.

Detectives unboxed the gun, shell casings and slugs at the Lexington Division of Police headquarters, allowing news photographers to take pictures. The .38-caliber revolver would have been shown as evidence in the murder case against Nunn, but because of Nunn's plea, a trial never took place.

Cuomo said ABC had followed the case since soon after the shooting happened. National correspondents had planned to attend Nunn's trial.

ABC tried to interview Nunn, but he repeatedly declined. Cuomo wound up interviewing Nunn's attorney, he said.

He said the story also will focus on Amanda's Law, a bill drafted in Amanda Ross's honor that improves tracking of domestic-violence offenders.

Ross's family "decided to use their grief to allow their daughter to become more than just the details of how she died," Cuomo said.

Diana Ross, who lost her 27-year-old daughter, has no ill feelings toward Damron, family spokesman Dale Emmons said.

Emmons said Diana Ross, who has become an advocate for domestic-violence victims, reluctantly agreed to be on the ABC show this week "simply to heighten attention to domestic violence."

"Nobody in the Ross family is writing a book or seeking publicity," he said.

Damron said she is pursuing the book because "I want to share this experience of what happened to me."

"It's not at all about money," she said. "I want to tell about Steve Nunn's self-destruction and my self-discovery. I don't want to hurt anyone. I want to bring forgiveness to everybody."

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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