State prison photo
Esteban Nuñez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, was released from prison Sunday after serving less than six years for his part in the 2008 stabbing death of San Diego college student Luis Santos. The original sentence called for 16 years, but then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on his final day in office, commuted the sentence to allow Nuñez, now 27, an earlier release. He will now be on parole in the Sacramento area for three years, per the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"Esteban Nuñez was released to parole supervision this morning (Sunday). In accordance with the law, he will reside in Sacramento County, which is his county of last legal residence. Nuñez will be on parole supervision for three years."
Nuñez pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2008 stabbing, which happened at a party at San Diego State University. Nuñez and his co-defendant went after Santos with knives and were charged with murder, but pleaded to the lesser charge. “Our son has paid his debt to society. He is committed to continuing the work of healing, self-reflection and spiritual growth," the Nuñez family said in a statement Sunday.
When Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence, the Santos family sued unsuccessfully. A judge found that the act was "repugnant" but legal. "It makes you sick that something like this can happen, and you have no power," Kathy Santos said.
“Of course you help a friend,” Schwarzenegger later said. From the LA Times:
The governor argued that Esteban Nuñez should have received a lighter sentence than co-defendant Ryan Jett, because Jett had a prior record and Nuñez did not, and because the prosecution’s theory had been that Jett actually delivered the fatal knife wound.
Prosecutors said it was never clear, however, who stabbed Santos, and that the law should treat the knife-wielding attackers with equal severity.
Fabian Nuñez said the sentencing judge had been too harsh on his son, and politically motivated. “I used my relationship with the governor to help my own son,” he told The Times. “I’d do it again.” Any father would do the same, he added.
Jett is serving the original sentence.