SAN DIEGO—The parents of a student stabbed to death in a street brawl are outraged over former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger's last-minute move to reduce the prison sentence of a politician's son.
Esteban Nunez is the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. He was sentenced to prison in Superior Court on June 25, 2010. But now, instead of spending 16 years behind bars his sentence was commuted to seven years.
"It is showing a gross injustice by our governator," said the victim's mother Kathy Santos.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger described Nunez's sentence as "excessive" and went on to say he would, "commute the sentence to the lower term for the crimes for which he (Nunez) was convicted."
"Arnold Schwarzenegger essentially just said it's okay to stab other people," said the victim's father Fred Santos. "It's okay to destroy evidence as long as you come from a connected family," he added.
County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she couldn't believe Schwarzenegger's action.
"We were shocked to hear of the Governor's last-minute commutation, which greatly diminishes justice for victim Luis Santos and re-victimizes his family and friends," Dumanis said in a written statement. "The District Attorney's Office was not consulted and the decision comes as the appeals process was continuing."
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was even more damning in his criticism of Schwarzenegger's 11th-hour intervention in the case.
"Esteban Nu?ez - son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu?ez - is a criminal who was sentenced by an experienced and well-respected Superior Court Judge. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence by over half to help his political crony's son. In doing so, he undermined the judicial system and has jeopardized public safety," Goldsmith said in a statement released Monday. "I speak for the overwhelming majority of San Diegans in stating that we are appalled and angry over Mr. Schwarzenegger's conduct. It reflects poorly on him, personally, and on his legacy as governor."
In October of 2008, Esteban Nunez who was 19 at the time, along with his friend Ryan Jett were kicked out of a frat party and got into a fight over it with another group of students at San Diego State University.
Jett has confessed to stabbing Luis Santos in the heart during that fight. Esteban Nunez confessed to stabbing another man, who survived. But both men got the same 16 year sentence. Some believe it was unfair because Jett had a criminal past and also delivered the fatal blow.
They also say, the judge didn't want to be criticized for letting Nunez off easy because of his fathers political ties and therefore gave Nunez the maximum sentence.
Rather than benefiting, they claim Nunez got a harsher sentence because he was the son of a prominent politician.
The original sentence was being appealed. But now that it has been commuted, the appeal is moot.
Esteban Nunez is currently serving his time at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California.