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Sat June 8, 2013
AP EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Lawmaker Nunn Aims To Attack Plea
CENTRAL CITY, Ky. -- Former Kentucky lawmaker Steve Nunn, the son of a governor, is at once contrite and indignant about how he landed in prison.
In his first interview behind bars, Nunn repeatedly apologized for the death of his one-time fiancee, Amanda Ross. Almost in the same breath, he turned angry and frustrated about how the legal system has treated him, and vowed to push for the right to take back his guilty plea.
And while Nunn, 60, said he is convinced that one day "the truth will come out," he declined to talk about what led him to shoot Ross outside her Lexington town house in 2009.
After the shooting, Nunn bolted from Lexington. Police later caught up with him near the graves of his parents in Hart County, where he fired one shot at a state trooper before surrendering. He had self-inflicted wrist wounds when he was taken into custody.
"Everything is going to be all right. I'm just so sad about everything," Nunn told The Associated Press during an hourlong face-to-face interview Thursday at the Green River Correctional Complex, the medium-security prison where he is being held.
"At some point, I will hope to be able to explain things," he said. "I won't go there today, though."
Nunn granted the interview after corresponding with the AP over several weeks. A state representative for 15 years and the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn, he is serving life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to killing Ross after the two ended their engagement.
A judge has found Nunn liable in a civil case filed by Ross' mother stemming from her death. A trial for damages is set for August in Lexington.
Before Nunn gets to civil court, he's aiming to go back into criminal court with an attempt to withdraw his plea.
A judge ordered Nunn's legal file turned over to him May 31. Since then, he has been methodically sorting through the paperwork, building a case that he says will show he wouldn't have been sent away for life had it not been for his lawyer, Warren Scoville of London, Ky.
Nunn says Scoville gave him faulty advice before he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty.
"I have a legitimate, provable motion of ineffective assistance of counsel," Nunn said.
Scoville, who resigned as Nunn's attorney in late 2011, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
All Nunn will say about the bad advice is, it involved all of his legal issues.
He doesn't deny his guilt. Instead, he talks about life in prison being too severe a sentence.
"I'm sure if I had gone to trial, I could have gotten a lesser sentence," Nunn said.
Nunn spent months fighting to get his legal file.
At one point, Fayette County Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson talked about copying the file and Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine agreed that prosecutors could withhold anything objectionable. The file contains multiple sealed exhibits that have never been made public.
Nunn insisted that he wanted no part of the sealed exhibits, only the legal paperwork in the six boxes of files. Nunn said he would seal those exhibits and offer to return them to Goodwine.
Talking of the legal file prompted Nunn to erupt in anger toward Larson, whom he accused of unethical and unprofessional conduct.
"He shot a woman in cold blood and ran like a coward," Larson responded. "That's Steve Nunn."
Nunn accuses the prosecutor of trying to unjustly keep him in prison for longer necessary.
"Mr. Larson ... has obstructed my right to justice at every turn," Nunn said.
Nunn is hoping a new attorney will take up his cause.
"I need help, obviously," he said.
Until that help arrives, Nunn plans to continue working without a lawyer's assistance. He thinks he can at least get another day in court on his claims about Scoville.
He said he also will continue to express remorse over Ross' death, including in letters to her family, even if he's not ready to say what led him to shoot a woman he once wanted to marry.
"At some point, I hope to be able to explain things," Nunn said.