Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Steve Nunn Coverage

June 29, 2011

Nunn receives life without parole

FRANKFORT — Steve Nunn, the former lawmaker and candidate for governor accused of the Sept. 11, 2009 murder of his former fiancée, Amanda Ross, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Fayette Circuit Court.

Nunn’s attorney Warren Scoville said Nunn wanted to waive formal sentencing, asking Judge Pamela Goodwine to impose sentence immediately. Goodwine asked Nunn if he understood his rights and the consequences of his guilty plea. Each time, Nunn answered, “Yes,” or “Yes ma’am.” Goodwine then sentenced him to life without parole. Nunn could have faced the death penalty had he been convicted at trial by a jury. He also pleaded guilty to violating an emergency protective order, according to his other attorney, Bette J. Niemi.

Niemi said Nunn “was satisfied with” the plea and sentence agreement, saying he wanted to protect his daughters and son from having to testify at his trial.

“As with any capital case, negotiations were begun very early and continued,” Niemi said. “Both parties have negotiated long and hard and reached agreement recently.”

Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson was not immediately available for comment.

Nunn was accused of shooting Ross early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2009, outside her Lexington townhouse. Ross had sought and been granted an emergency protective order against Nunn, alleging he struck her during an argument that took place a couple of months earlier in her home.

Diana Ross, the mother of the victim, was in the courtroom Tuesday and had been consulted about the plea by Larson, according to Ross family friend and spokesperson Dale Emmons.

“Nothing will ever bring Amanda back,” Emmons said, but Diana Ross “feels some peace that this is over.”

Emmons said Ross is thankful for the work done by Larson and his office and to “Judge Goodwine for imposing a just sentence.” He said he was personally “a little shocked and surprised” by the plea agreement, especially after a status hearing last week at which attorneys for Nunn argued to introduce information written by Nunn about his and Amanda Ross’ personal lives and discovered in the car he was driving when apprehended the day of the murder.

“I thought after that hearing, man, this is going to be ugly,” Emmons said. But sometime after the hearing, Emmons said, defense attorneys approached Larson about entering a guilty plea. Larson then met with Diana Ross, he said, and, “Diana agreed to it.”

When Nunn’s attorneys indicated he wanted to enter his guilty plea and have sentencing imposed Tuesday, Larson objected because he wanted the Ross family to be able to enter a victim-impact statement. But Emmons said Larson conferred briefly with Diana Ross, who agreed to allow the plea and sentence to take place Tuesday.

Emmons praised Larson’s and his staff’s handling of the case.

“Ray Larson’s office did a first-class job of dealing with the family,” Emmons said.

Emmons said he had known Nunn for years and “always considered Steve a friend until Amanda’s murder.” He called the crime “unthinkable.”

Amanda Ross, 29, was found shot multiple times in the parking lot of her Lexington townhouse on Friday morning, Sept. 11, 2009. She died a short time later at a Lexington hospital.

Authorities immediately began searching for Nunn. After tracking his movements through his cell phone, Kentucky State Police and officers with the Barren County Sheriff’s Department found Nunn, bleeding from self-inflicted cuts on his wrists, in the small country cemetery in Hart County where his parents, former Gov. Louie B. Nunn and Beula Nunn, are buried. He was transported by ambulance to The Medical Center in Bowling Green and charged with murder the following week.

Nunn was a long-time Republican legislator known for advocating for the interests of the less fortunate. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for governor in the 2003 primary. He was defeated in his 2006 re-election bid for his state House seat and was later named Deputy Secretary of the Health and Family Services Cabinet by Gov. Steve Beshear, who he endorsed in the 2007 election. He resigned that position after news accounts of the DVO obtained by Amanda Ross. Friends and associates of Nunn, interviewed in the aftermath of Amanda Ross’ death, said Nunn’s life began to unravel at that point and he blamed her for his problems.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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Steve Nunn Coverage
  • Nunn receives life without parole

    Steve Nunn, the former lawmaker and candidate for governor accused of the Sept. 11, 2009 murder of his former fiancée, Amanda Ross, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Fayette Circuit Court.

    June 29, 2011

  • Judge to decide relevance of Nunn's writings

    LEXINGTON — A judge is weighing whether jurors in the upcoming murder trial of a former state lawmaker may see a batch of writings seized from his car after his arrest on a charge of killing his one-time fiancée.

    June 22, 2011

  • Nunn case delayed in Hart County

    The case of a former state lawmaker charged with six counts of first-degree wanton endangerment involving law enforcement officers was passed for review to May on Tuesday in Hart County Circuit Court.

    December 8, 2010

  • Judge sets August 2011 trial for Steve Nunn

    A judge on Friday set an August 2011 trial date for a former state lawmaker charged with murder in the death of his ex-fiancee.

    October 12, 2010

  • Judge: Nunn’s hard drive can be searched

     A judge ruled Tuesday that prosecutors in the case of a former state lawmaker charged with killing his ex-fiancee can continue to search a computer hard drive that authorities say contained child pornography.

    September 29, 2010

  • Judge denies motion in Nunn case

    A Fayette circuit judge denied a motion by Steve Nunn’s defense attorneys Thursday to exclude consideration of the death penalty in his trial on charges he shot and killed his former fiancée.

    August 20, 2010

  • Nunn attorneys argue computer evidence

    Attorneys for a former Kentucky lawmaker accused of killing his ex-fiancee argued Thursday that child pornography and other evidence found on a computer hard drive should be disallowed because it was obtained through an improper police search.

    July 9, 2010

  • Hearing set on contents of box

    A judge has set a July hearing to determine whether an external hard drive belonging to a former lawmaker charged with murder can be searched.

    June 13, 2010

  • Nunn found competent to stand trial

    Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled Monday that former state Rep. Steve Nunn is competent to stand trial for murder in the death of his former fiancée, Amanda Ross.

    April 6, 2010

  • Nunn ordered to undergo pyschiatric evaluation Nunn ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation A Fayette circuit judge ordered former lawmaker Steve Nunn to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he’s competent to assist his attorneys in his defense on murder charges.

    December 18, 2009 1 Photo