Former Kentucky Lawmaker Liable for $23M in Ross Slaying

August 22, 2013

A judge in Lexington ruled Monday that former Kentucky lawmaker Steve Nunn is liable for nearly $24 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of his slain ex-fiancee.

Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ruled after a hearing that Nunn is liable for about $3.8 million in damages for funeral and medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of the ability to earn. Lucy Pett, an attorney for the family of Amanda Ross, says Ishmael added another $20 million in punitive damages.

Nunn, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie Nunn, is serving a life sentence without parole after pleading guilty in 2011 to killing Ross. She was shot to death outside her Lexington home in 2009.

It was unclear Monday how much of the damages Nunn would be able to pay. He will be eligible in 2014 for an annual state pension of $28,210, based on his legislative and executive department service.

Nunn was not in the courtroom Monday for the nearly four-hour hearing.

The townhome community where Ross lived was also a defendant in the lawsuit. Opera House Square Townhouse Association settled for an undisclosed amount last week.

Ishmael ruled Monday that Nunn would be accountable for 90 percent of the compensatory damages, which totaled about $4.2 million. The remaining 10 percent of the liability for that total was assigned to Opera House Square, but the settlement last week resolved its share of the damages, Pett said.

Nunn, who spent about 15 years in the state legislature, was sent to prison for life without parole after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance in the shooting of his ex-fiancee.

The wrongful death suit was brought by Amanda Ross’ mother, Diana Ross.

In a court filing last year, Nunn said he used a key to the pedestrian gate to get into the townhome community. Nunn said Ross gave him the key. He admitted approaching Ross in the parking lot of the complex and shooting her before fleeing to southern Kentucky. State troopers arrested Nunn at the graves of his parents.

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