Revenge for Real: How Did a Promising Legislator Become a Killer?


Steve Nunn: 'He Was a Humanitarian'

With his new bride at his side, Nunn found his signature cause: protecting victims of domestic abuse. In 1998, he co-sponsored legislation that made it a death penalty offense when a person named in a domestic violence order murders the protected individual.

"He was a humanitarian. And everyone knew that," Damron said.

In 2002, Damron helped arrange what should have been the final piece in the puzzle for her husband's success: a reconciliation with his father.

"They were literally hugging and kissing," she said. "I remember sitting back and watching it and saying, 'I have witnessed a miracle from God.'"

By then, Nunn was ready to take the biggest gamble of his political career: in 2003, he campaigned to be the Republican nominee for the Kentucky governorship.

But the repaired father-son relationship didn't translate into a primary election victory. Nunn lost badly, garnering just 13 percent of the vote.

Early the following year, Nunn suffered an even more crushing loss: Louie Nunn died in January, 2004. His father's death left Steve Nunn grappling with an identity crisis.

"Steve's whole identity as a human being was, 'I'm Louie Nunn's son,'" Damron said.

Nunn's vices began to take control: he was consuming Kentucky bourbon with abandon and cruising for sex on websites like

"I literally went to bed one night with this beautiful, wonderful marriage of ten years...and I literally wake up to a nightmare," Damron said.

Nunn's problems took a heavy professional toll: In 2006, he lost his seat in the state legislature to a relative unknown. The defeat, said Forgy, was a critique of "Steve's conduct in his home county."

"It was a referendum on the way he was acting," Forgy said.

After the apparent demise of his political career, his marriage was next. Nunn and Tracey Damron divorced in 2006.

"He says, 'Tracey, get away from me. I don't want to hurt you. And all I do is hurt you,'" Damron said

Just when it seemed Nunn had hit rock bottom, in 2007 he had a third chance at love.

Like Nunn, Amanda Ross was the daughter of a politically powerful, recently-deceased father -- Terrell Ross, a public financier.

Ross, who was in her late 20s, was intent on making a career in politics. That's part of what drew her to Nunn, those who knew her said.

After a few months of dating, Nunn moved into Ross' Lexington apartment and the couple became the talk of the town.

"She went to the Governor's Ball with him. And then the next day she was on ...the front page of The Courier-Journal in this dress with Steve Nunn," remembered Ross's friend, Alex Redgefield. "She was really happy."

The couple got engaged on Ross's birthday in 2008.

It wasn't just Nunn's love life that was on the upswing: After crossing party lines to endorse Democrat Steve Beshear for governor, he was rewarded with an appointment as deputy secretary of the state's Department of Health and Family Services, overseeing social welfare programs, including those dealing with spousal abuse.

"He had finally come back to the point that he was relevant again," Cross said.

Ross, meanwhile, landed a job at the Kentucky State Department of Insurance.

But life was far from perfect for the couple. Nunn's attorney, Warren Scoville, said both Nunn and Ross "abused substances."

"When you take a couple and they get jealous, they're not themselves, and the relationship becomes volatile," he said.

That volatility manifested itself in incidents like one at a restaurant.

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