Facing a team of attorneys, imprisoned former Barren County lawmaker Steve Nunn apologized to the family of the ex-fiancee he was convicted of killing but declined to say he shot her, complained of health problems and refused to answer questions about her death, according to the transcript of his deposition.
Nunn, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn, also repeatedly said in the brief July 11 deposition that his heart was racing and he didn't feel comfortable talking about the September 2009 death of Amanda Ross until he consults with a lawyer.
"My mind is sputtering, I guess, at best," Nunn said during the questioning at Green River Correctional Center in Central City. Nunn was sent to prison for life without parole after he pleaded guilty in June 2011 to first-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance in the shooting of his ex-fiancee.
On Tuesday, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ordered Nunn to "fully and completely" answer queries from attorneys in a lawsuit over Ross' death.
Nunn and the owners of Ross' former residence, Opera House Square, are defendants in a lawsuit brought by the slain woman's family. Ishmael has already determined Nunn is liable for the death. Nunn faces a possible damages judgment at a trial starting Aug. 19 in Lexington.
Diane Laughlin, an attorney for Opera House Square, wants Nunn's testimony as she tries to place responsibility for the death on the man who pulled the trigger and deflect it away from the property owner. A jury will be asked to determine who is responsible for Ross' death and to what degree.
Ishmael found no reason for Nunn to remain silent.
According to a transcript of the deposition, Nunn answered two questions, one of which was to identify himself. Nunn then apologized to the Ross family and Opera House Square, but never directly acknowledged that he shot his one-time fiancee.
Nunn went on to complain of experiencing atrial fibrillation — a rapid heartbeat often associated with palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure. Nunn also said he felt uncomfortable answering questions since he had not talked to an attorney in more than a year.
"Again, I apologize to all of you," Nunn told the attorneys. "Almost need a wheelchair to get out of here."
Laughlin said getting Nunn's deposition before trial could be tricky and she hopes it won't delay the proceedings.
"Mr. Nunn is a potential fly in the ointment," Laughlin said.
"We'll keep our fingers crossed on Mr. Nunn," Ishmael said.
Also included in the trial will be consideration of negligence claims against Nunn's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Nunn of Glasgow. The claims against the daughter stem from accusations that Stephen Nunn illegally transferred property in Glasgow to her to avoid having the Ross family claim it as damages.
After the shooting, Nunn bolted from Lexington. Police 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.
Nunn spent about 15 years in the state legislature. His father served as governor from 1967 to 1971.
Amanda Ross' death prompted changes to domestic violence laws in Kentucky. Amanda's Law, which passed in 2010, allows domestic violence victims to be alerted by a GPS tracking system when their aggressors get too close.
Nunn, who briefly served as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, had carved out his own political career as an advocate for people with mental disabilities. Nunn failed to win re-election to the state House in 2006. In 2003, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
When he turns 62 on Nov. 4, 2014, Nunn will be 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.