By RONNIE ELLIS
FRANKFORT — 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.
Nunn, 57, is accused of shooting his former fiancée, 29-year-old Amanda Ross, outside her Lexington townhouse on Sept. 11. He’s also charged with violation of a domestic protection order Ross obtained against him after charging Nunn struck her four times in the face during an argument, an aggravating offense which enables prosecutors to seek the death penalty if they choose to do so.
Nunn has been held in the Fayette County Detention Center without bail but he appeared in court Friday morning, having shaved the full beard he’d worn in previous court appearances. He was dressed in a green jail jumpsuit and wore ankle shackles. He did not speak.
Before Friday morning’s proceeding began, Judge Pamela Goodwine conferred with Nunn’s attorney Warren Scoville and an attorney with the office of Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson for about five minutes. Scoville then told Goodwine in open court that his previously filed motion to have Nunn evaluated “speaks for itself.”
In that motion, Scoville argues Nunn’s physical and mental condition has deteriorated to the point he may not be able to assist in his own defense.
He told Goodwine Nunn has “health issues that should remain private” and he did not wish to make any oral arguments on his motion. Scoville said “time is of the essence” in beginning the evaluation.
Goodwine then ordered Nunn transported “as soon as possible” to the Kentucky Corrections Psychiatric Center (KCPC) near LaGrange for an evaluation she said might take as long as four to six weeks. Larson has agreed to the evaluation.
Goodwine scheduled a status hearing for Feb. 12 on the evaluation but also ruled it is not necessary for Nunn to be transported back to Fayette County each time there is a hearing in the case. Goodwine said if the psychiatric evaluation is complete by Feb. 12, she would then set a hearing to determine Nunn’s competency.
Nunn once previously was ordered to undergo an evaluation after he had been arrested for murder but prior to his indictment by the Fayette grand jury. He was transported to the KCPC but after four days of evaluation was returned to Fayette County after Larson withdrew his agreement to conduct the evaluation because of the “voluminous discovery” or evidence the lack of specific charges against Nunn.
As they have for previous court hearings in the case, Ross’ mother, Diana Ross and other family and friends or Ross, attended the hearing. They did not comment afterward, nor did Scoville or the prosecutor.
Nunn is the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn and a one-time candidate for governor himself, losing in the 2003 Republican primary. He served 16 years in the state House of Representatives.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.