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Judge to hear ex-lawmaker's bid to withdraw plea in slaying; Nunn claims bad legal advice

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — A former Kentucky lawmaker spending life in prison for the death of his ex-fiancee will get a chance to argue that his attorney failed him and he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine has set a hearing for Oct. 30 in Lexington in the case of 61-year-old Stephen Roberts Nunn. Nunn is contesting his 2011 guilty plea to killing Amanda Ross outside of her Lexington home in 2009.

Nunn, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie Nunn, is serving a life sentence without parole at Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook.

Nunn claims his then-attorney, Warren Scoville of London, Kentucky, gave him bad advice about pleading guilty rather than going to trial in a death penalty-eligible case. Scoville did not return messages from The Associated Press on Friday.

Nunn is also appealing a judgment by Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael holding the former lawmaker liable for nearly $24 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Ross family. Ishmael ruled in August 2013 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. Ishmael added another $20 million in punitive damages.

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.

In a letter to The Associated Press this week, Nunn said Ishmael "basically voided" a state law by allowing garnishment of his retirement benefits. The issue is being briefed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but no hearing date has been set.

"I have a great deal to say about both of these issues, but I believe it is best for me to withhold comment until a more appropriate time, where the facts and circumstances will best illustrate the truth," Nunn wrote to the AP. "I really want to take a lie detector test about all of these questions."

The townhome community where Ross lived, Opera House Square Townhouse Association, settled with the Ross family for an undisclosed amount.

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.

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.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP

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