Former state Rep. Steve Nunn has lost another round in his effort to overturn his sentence of life without parole for murdering his onetime fiancée, Amanda Ross, in 2009 in Lexington.
The state Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order Thursday declining to review a lower-court decision upholding Nunn’s guilty plea and sentence.
Nunn, 64, pleaded guilty in June 2011 to killing Ross. He avoided a potential death sentence with the plea, but two years later he started fighting to get his life sentence set aside.
Nunn argued to the state Court of Appeals that attorney Warren Scoville, who handled Nunn’s case in circuit court in Lexington, didn’t provide him effective assistance.
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One of Nunn’s arguments was that Scoville failed to advise him that if he pleaded guilty, that didn’t mean a civil lawsuit seeking damages for Ross’s death would be dismissed.
However, Scoville, who has since died, testified that Nunn understood that dismissing the civil lawsuit wasn’t a condition of his guilty plea, according to the Court of Appeals.
A judge ultimately found Nunn liable for $24 million in the civil suit.
Nunn had testified that he pleaded guilty to spare his daughters and Ross’s family the ordeal of a trial, but he wouldn’t have admitted guilt without a trial if he had known that the civil lawsuit would not be dropped, according to court records.
The Court of Appeals was not persuaded, saying the judges didn’t think Nunn suffered a worse outcome by pleading guilty.
Nunn avoided a death sentence on an intentional murder that he admitted committing, the court said.
The appeals court upheld Nunn’s sentence last July. The state Supreme Court’s order lets that ruling stand.
Nunn, son of the late Republican Gov. Louie B. Nunn, was a GOP member of the state House of Representatives for more than 25 years before then-Gov. Steve Beshear appointed him as a deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in 2007.
Nunn quit his job after Ross, 29, charged that Nunn hit her in the face four times during a confrontation, threw her against a lamp and then threw a glass of bourbon in her face.
Ross later told a co-worker she feared that Nunn would kill her.
A few days later, Nunn ambushed Ross outside her townhouse in Lexington and shot her to death.