Steve Nunn

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Steve Nunn
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 23rd district
In office
January 1, 1991 – January 1, 2007
Preceded byBobby H. Richardson
Succeeded byJohnny Bell
Personal details
Born (1952-11-04) November 4, 1952 (age 71)
Glasgow, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseTracey L. Damron (divorced)[1]
Parent(s)Louie Nunn
Beula Cornelius Aspley Nunn
ResidenceLife imprisonment

Stephen Roberts Nunn (born November 4, 1952) is an American convicted murderer and former politician who served as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Family Services for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

From 1991 to 2007, he was a Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from his native Barren County in southern Kentucky. In 2011, Nunn received a life sentence without parole after pleading guilty to the murder of his ex-fiancée.

Early life[edit]

He is the son of the late Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn and First Lady Beula Cornelius Aspley Nunn.[2] According to several witnesses, Nunn was often ridiculed by his father.[3] He was graduated from Frankfort High School in 1970, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Transylvania University in 1975. He attended the University of Louisville School of Law, but did not graduate.[3][4]

Outside of politics[edit]

In 1987, Nunn bought into an insurance company in Glasgow. He later became a physician recruiter and consultant for TJ Samson Hospital.[4]

Political career[edit]

Nunn was elected to represent the 23rd district in the state's House of Representatives in 1990 after incumbent representative Bobby H. Richardson retired, defeating Democrat Danny J. Basil. The district had precincts in Barren and Metcalfe counties.[5] In 1996, the precincts in Metcalfe County would be replaced by precincts in Warren County.[6] He ran unopposed in 1998,[7] 2000,[8] 2002,[9] and 2004.[10]

While in office, Nunn was known as a relative liberal who championed women, children and the disadvantaged.[3][4] in 1998, he co-sponsored a law making it a death penalty offense for a person named in a domestic violence protective order to kill the person who was protected by the order.[3] He was an advocate for the Kentucky TeleHealth Network which he helped create with the passage of HB-177 and HB-112 in 2000. The network used electronic medical communications systems to help reach patients in rural settings who couldn't travel.[11][12] In 2001, he was able to pass a bill that gave children in foster care, and former foster care children, the ability to attend state universities in Kentucky for free.[4] In 2005, he was able to pass a pilot program that used $100,000 in Kentucky Department of Medicaid funding to place telemedicine equipment in fourteen schools and fifteen other sites. These sites could connect with clinics and, it was hoped, reduce school time missed for illnesses and avoid costly emergency room visits.[13][14]

Nunn unsuccessfully sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2003, finishing third to then-United States Representative Ernie Fletcher of Lexington, whom Nunn then supported. Former State Representative Bob Heleringer, then of Eastwood in suburban Jefferson County, ran as the lieutenant governor selection on Nunn's ticket.[15] In the primary, Nunn received 21,167 votes (13.4 percent), but Fletcher led the four-candidate field with 90,912 (57.3 percent). Rebecca Jackson polled 44,084 (27.8 percent) and Virgil Moore polled 2,365 (1.5 percent). Fletcher went on to win the position in the general election by defeating Democrat Attorney General Ben Chandler, the grandson of Happy Chandler. Fletcher was the first Republican to be elected governor of Kentucky since Louie B. Nunn upset Henry Ward in November 1967.

On November 7, 2006, after nearly 16 years as a state representative,[16] Nunn lost his bid for re-election to the Democrat Johnny Bell. Nunn polled 5,572 votes (46.7 percent) to Bell's 6,371 ballots (53.3 percent).[17]

In September 2007, Nunn announced his support of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Beshear, a former lieutenant governor who handily unseated Fletcher in the Republican's bid for re-election.[3] In November 2007 he was appointed to Beshear's transition team.[18] On December 22, 2007, Beshear appointed Nunn as deputy secretary of Health and Family Services.[3]

Murder of ex-fiancée[edit]

In March 2009, Steve Nunn, 56, resigned his state position as deputy secretary for the Health and Family Services Cabinet after having been placed on administrative leave in February as a result of a February 19 assault in Lexington on 29-year-old Amanda Ross, his former fiancée, who had procured a protective order against him for domestic violence.[19]

On September 11, 2009, Ross was found shot to death outside of the Opera House Square complex in Lexington.[20] That same day, Nunn was found by police with his wrists slit in Hart County near the grave sites of his parents.[21] He was arrested and taken to a hospital in Bowling Green,[2] where he was in fair condition from the wounds, which were first considered to be self-inflicted.[21][22] Nunn was charged with six counts of wanton endangerment of a police officer because when authorities arrived to arrest him, they reported that Nunn had fired a .38-caliber handgun.[23]

On September 14, Nunn was taken to the Hart County jail after having been discharged from the hospital.[24] The same day, Nunn was charged by Lexington police with Ross's murder.[25] On September 17, Nunn was transferred to the Fayette County Detention Center.[26] The next day, he pleaded not guilty to the murder charges in Fayette District Court.[27] On November 10, 2009, Nunn was indicted on charges of murder and violating a protective order.[28] Prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty,[29] but on June 28, 2011, Nunn pleaded guilty in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington to Ross's murder and received a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the crime.[30] He is currently serving his sentence at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, under Department of Corrections (DOC) ID #246151.[31]

As of November 4, 2014, Nunn was eligible to receive his full state pension of $28,210 annually, based on his legislative and executive department service. State law permits pension benefits to former lawmakers unless they commit a crime while in office as a legislator.[32]

Meanwhile, the Ross family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Nunn.[33] In August 2013, a Fayette Circuit Judge ordered Steve Nunn to pay Ross's family more than $24 million for killing her outside her Lexington home in 2009.[34]

The judge ruled Nunn to pay $20 million for punitive damages. The judge also commanded Nunn to pay $23,000 for medical costs, $27,000 for funeral costs, $3 million for Ross's future earning potential, along with pain and suffering to Ross and to the estate at one million dollars.[34]

Amanda's Law[edit]

In the months after her daughter's murder, Diana Ross began advocating for the protection of other victims of domestic violence. She wanted to bring more light to domestic-violence, under the title of Amanda's Law. The law was passed in 2010 by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.[35] It increases the use of GPS tracking units to enhance the protection of victims from domestic violence and their past attackers.[35] Diana pointed out the law that passed was not as strong as she advocated for.[20]

It's not effective right now, The judges are not using it yet. And it's my fear that it's going to take another high-profile murder to get their attention.

— Diana Ross, commenting on Amanda's Law.[20]

Judges can invoke the law on a case-by-case basis after a protective order has been violated.[20]

According to the federal Electronic Monitoring Resource Center at Denver University, there are currently 12 states with laws allowing judges to order the wearing of GPS tracking units. The units send an alarm to both the victim and police if the perpetrator enters areas restricted by the protection order.[20][36]


The investigative television show 20/20 on OWN's episode "Sins of the Son" (Season 3, Episode 52) examines the Steve Nunn case, using the 20/20 story that originally aired September 19, 2013.[37][38]


  1. ^ Urbina, Ian (November 12, 2009). "A Murder Raises Hard Questions in Kentucky". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Former Governor's Son In Custody After Fatal Shooting". WLEX-TV via September 11, 2009. Archived from the original on September 14, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Phillips, Harry; Sancho, Miguel (March 14, 2012). "Revenge for Real: How Did a Promising Legislator Become a Killer?". ABC News. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Brammer, Jack; Musgrave, Beth (September 12, 2009). "Ex-lawmaker known for social advocacy". Lexington Herald-Leader. Lexington, Kentucky. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  5. ^ "General Election, November 6, 1990". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  6. ^ "General Election, November 5, 1996". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  7. ^ "General Election, November 3, 1998". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  8. ^ "REPORT OF "OFFICIAL" ELECTION NIGHT TALLY RESULTS, 2000". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  9. ^ "REPORT OF "OFFICIAL" ELECTION NIGHT TALLY RESULTS, 2002". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  10. ^ "REPORT OF "OFFICIAL" ELECTION NIGHT TALLY RESULTS, 2004". Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Elections.
  11. ^ "Kentucky TeleHealth Network Expands". University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "TeleHealth In West Kentucky" (PDF). Murray State University. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  13. ^ Kinslow, Gina (November 19, 2005). "Technology brings new meaning to house calls". Glasgow Daily Times. Glasgow, Kentucky. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "New Telecare Program Reaching Rural Children at School". Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "Heleringer to run for Senate, June 13, 2007". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  16. ^ "Former Kentucky Lawmaker No Longer Facing Charges". Associated Press via WPSD-TV. Archived from the original on September 16, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  17. ^ "Election results, November 7, 2006". Retrieved October 14, 2009.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Richmond Businessman Lee Murphy to Serve on Governor's Transition Team" (Press release). Richmond, Kentucky: Chapel Communications. November 16, 2007. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  19. ^ Lacrapia, Kim (September 11, 2009). "KY Rep. Steve Nunn arrested after girlfriend Amanda Ross found dead". ABC. The Inquisitr News. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  20. ^ a b c d e Sechrist, Adam (March 13, 2012). "Victim's Mom Fights for Stalker Law". ABC News. ABC News. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Martinez, Edecio (September 15, 2009). "Former Rep. Steven Nunn Charged With Killing Ex-Girlfriend Amanda Ross". CBS News. Frankfort, Kentucky: CBS News Interactive. (AP). Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  22. ^ "Ex-fiancee of lawmaker shot and killed in Lexington; Politician wanted for questioning". WKYT-TV. September 11, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  23. ^ Clark, Ashlee; Estep, Bill; Wilson, Amy (September 11, 2009). "Kentucky GOP ex-lawmaker arrested; ex-fiance is dead". McClatchy Newspapers / Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on September 15, 2009.
  24. ^ Ronnie, Ellis; Simpson Strange, Lisa (September 17, 2009). "Nunn moved to Lexington jail". The Independent Online. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Ward, Karla; Alessi, Ryan; Estep, Bill (September 14, 2009). "Prominent Kentucky GOP pol charged with murder in ex-fiancee's death". Lexington Herald-Leader. Munfordville, Kentucky: McClatchyDC. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  26. ^ Clark, Ashlee (September 18, 2009). "Nunn pleads not guilty in murder case". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  27. ^ Ellis, Ronnie (November 19, 2009). "Nunn pleads not guilty to murder charges". Glasgow Daily Times. CNHI News Service. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  28. ^ Spears, Valarie Honeycutt; Clark, Ashlee (November 10, 2009). "Nunn indicted on murder charge". Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on November 12, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
  29. ^ Gazaway, Charles (May 26, 2010). "Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Steve Nunn". WAVE News. Louisville, Kentucky: Frankly Media and WAVE. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  30. ^ "Steve Nunn pleads guilty to murder, gets life sentence". The Courier-Journal. June 27, 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  31. ^ Kentucky Online Offender Search (KOOL) - Kentucky Department of Corrections
  32. ^ Barrouquere, Brett (November 15, 2012). "Kentucky's Nunn Found Liable for Wrongful Death in Insurance Examiner Killing". Insurance Journal. Wells Media Group, Inc. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  33. ^ Brammer, Jack (June 30, 2011). "Steve Nunn will receive state pension despite murder conviction". Frankfort, Kentucky: Lexington Herald Leader. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Ex-lawmaker Steve Nunn must pay Ross family more than $20M". Lexington, Kentucky: WKYT. August 19, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  35. ^ a b MacDonald, Janelle. "Amanda's Law with GPS tracking goes into effect". Wave News. Louisville, Kentucky: Raycom Media. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  36. ^ Green, Ariana (May 8, 2009). "More States Embrace GPS Monitoring in Abuse Cases". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  37. ^ "20/20 on OWN". Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  38. ^ "Sins of the Son - 20/20 on OWN". Retrieved March 25, 2017.[permanent dead link]