The ex-wife of Steve Nunn, who is serving life without parole for the 2009 shooting death of his former fiancee, details a strained relationship between the former state lawmaker and his father, former Gov. Louie Nunn, in a self-published book released Wednesday.
Tracey Damron, whose 10-year marriage to Nunn ended in 2006, said he did nothing to defend himself in abusive relationships with his father and women.
“There was some serious abuse in that family, and Steve was the target,” she said Wednesday after a news conference on the steps of the Capitol.
Damron, who lives part-time in Pikeville, chronicles her life as the wife of Nunn and Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott in “A Trail of Feathers,” ghostwritten by Dr. Janean Hamilton, who practices oriental medicine in Florida.
The book also covers the drowning of her fiance, Christopher Peck.
Much of the book focuses on Damron’s time with Nunn, who in 2011 pleaded guilty to murdering ex-fiancee Amanda Ross outside her Lexington townhouse. Damron discusses the 2009 murder in a couple of chapters and includes letters Nunn sent from jail.
Nunn, a Republican in the state House from 1991 to 2006, gunned down Ross as she left for work at the state Department of Insurance Sept. 11, 2009.
Ross had obtained a restraining order against Nunn earlier that year after a domestic incident, which Damron said Ross initiated. The book includes a picture taken that night showing a streak of blood running down Nunn’s cheek.
Damron claims a close friend of Ross, Penny Bentley, was prepared to testify on behalf of Nunn in the domestic violence trial.
Nunn stepped down as deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services after the domestic incident.
“This book has brought up some very serious questions and hopefully will add some insight into why a good man became so desperate and was pushed to the extreme and why I chose to walk away from it all,” she said.
Damron said she has not replied to Nunn’s letters, but in a brief note dated March 27, 2012, he thanked her for a letter. He wrote a lengthy letter to his sister, Jennie Nunn Penn, in response to her comments in an article published by The State Journal in 2012.
“A Trail of Feathers” is partially in response to Nunn’s portrayal in that article as well as a “20/20” piece on the Ross murder.
“I don’t want to say that anybody’s not saying the truth, but this is not the truth as I experienced it,” she said. “… There’s another story to this, and I will tell the other story.”
Damron did not reach out to Nunn or the Ross family regarding the book, but Nunn’s daughters, Mary and Courtney Nunn, support her decision to publish the work, she said.
“The children and I are close, and they understand that this is my own healing,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot in my life, not just with the Nunn family.”
Damron said in the book she helped reconcile the relationship between father and son before Nunn’s failed gubernatorial bid in 2003.
The relationship began to sour again during the primary election, Damron said, with Louie Nunn micromanaging his son’s campaign and constantly threatening to call press conferences to endorse former Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson.
Even before he announced his gubernatorial ambition, Damron said the elder Nunn threatened to move to Florida and never speak to his son again when Steve Nunn contemplated joining Jackson’s candidacy as lieutenant governor.
Nunn came in a distant third to Ernie Fletcher, who eventually became the first Republican governor since Louie Nunn.
“After the election was over somehow the energy shifted between father and son,” the book reads. “Louie B. Nunn let go of all control over Steve’s life and became the father that Steve had always longed for. All the wrongs that he had ever committed against Steve were made right by Governor Nunn.”
“A Trail of Feathers” also chronicle’s Steve Nunn’s downward spiral following the death of his father in 2004. In the book, Damron said he began wearing his father’s clothes and, at one point, pounded his fist on a desk and repeatedly declared, “I am Louie B. Nunn!”
She said he began calling her derogatory names, listening to different music, drinking vodka instead of bourbon and reciting Cassius Clay.
Damron named Steve Nunn’s bizarre persona “Ronnie” and consulted a Bowling Green shaman, who said Nunn was possessed by his father’s spirit. She convinced Nunn to undergo an exorcism, she said, but he did not abstain from alcohol as the shaman advised.
“After this exorcism, my husband never again mentioned that he was Governor Louie B. Nunn,” the book reads.
Damron divorced Nunn in 2006 after his drinking worsened and he began engaging in several affairs, she said in the book.