Prominent London attorney Warren N. Scoville died Thursday morning from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to local authorities.
Scoville, 75, had been well known in Republican political circles for more than 30 years. He served on the executive committee of the state party, chaired the finance committee and went to three national GOP conventions as a delegate, according to his website.
Scoville also was a top attorney, said Laurel Circuit Judge Thomas Jensen, a longtime friend.
Scoville represented clients vigorously and was adept in the courtroom, Jensen said.
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"He had a lot of talent," Jensen said. "This just caught me and I think everyone in our community off guard. I'm very sad over the whole thing."
Scoville handled criminal defense cases and civil lawsuits. His website said he had won several verdicts of more than a million dollars.
He represented defendants in a number of high-profile cases over his long career, including former GOP state Rep. Steve Nunn, who is serving a life sentence for killing his former fiancée, Amanda Ross, in 2009 outside her Lexington townhouse, and hotel queen Leona Helmsley, whom Scoville helped get a transfer out of the federal medical prison in Lexington to a prison closer to her home in 1992.
Laurel County Sheriff John Root said Scoville called him Thursday morning at 10:18 while Root was in a meeting of the county election board.
When Root answered, Scoville identified himself and gave directions to an area where he was off East 4th Street near the House-Rawlings Funeral Home, Root said.
"'I'm gonna be at the end of the street. I'm going to kill myself,'" Root quoted Scoville as saying.
Scoville was calm and did not say why he planned to end his life, Root said.
Root said he tried to dissuade Scoville, but Scoville said he had made his funeral arrangements and would be dead by the time police arrived, then hung up.
Root rushed out of the meeting and called the city-county dispatch center to ask that London police meet him to try to find Scoville, according to Root and a news release from the London Police Department.
Police went to the area Scoville had described and found him in a vacant lot at a former lumber company with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to the news release.
Police found a pistol at the scene, along with papers in the front seat of Scoville's SUV with funeral information, Root said.
An ambulance crew treated Scoville at the scene and took him to St. Joseph Hospital — London, where he was pronounced dead.
Laurel Circuit Court Clerk Roger Schott said Scoville called him earlier this week and laughed about a bet the two had on the May 19 GOP primary. Scoville did not seem depressed and gave no indication that he was considering ending his life, Schott said.
Scoville was a man of sharp wit and strong opinions, Schott said.
"He picked his time," Schott said. "He did this in a very Scoville manner. I hope his spirit's with God. We will miss him."
Scoville grew up in London and was a pilot before returning home in 1977 to practice law, joining a firm his great-great-grandfather started in 1870.
He was a Navy aviator from 1962 to 1967 and flew combat-support missions during the Vietnam War, then was a commercial pilot for Pan-Am from 1967 to 1974 before entering law school, according to his website.
Jensen said Scoville was married and had three daughters.