Nunez speaks out about son's controversial commutation

May 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time, former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is talking about his son's prison sentence and the role Arnold Schwarzenegger played in changing it. On his last day as governor, Schwarzenegger cut the voluntary manslaughter sentence of Esteban Nunez by more than half.

The 22-year-old is serving a seven-year sentence for his role in the killing of a college student, Luis Santos, in October of 2008, during a fight in San Diego. The once powerful Democrat says he's not looking for sympathy considering what the other family is going through.

"There's a family out there involved in the same incident that's suffering a lot more than we are," said Nunez.

Public outrage erupted when Nunez's close friend, Schwarzenegger, took a look at his son's case and commuted the sentence to seven years just before he left office late last year. Nunez felt the original 16-year sentence was unjust because it was the same punishment as the man who actually stabbed Santos.

"I think what drove him to do this was not so much that he's my friend, it's that he saw the grave injustice that the judge committed," he said.

That commutation angered the Santos family who has been on a mission to reinstate the original prison term and take away such executive powers from governors.

Reached by phone, Kathy Santos says she doesn't believe Nunez's sincerity. "I don't feel that's an apology. And remember, he can give his son a hug in prison, anytime."

"Some of that criticism is well taken and I understand it," said Nunez. "But I would argue that most parents would do anything for their children."

The Nunez family tried to reach out to the Santos family, but they refused. The former Assembly speaker hopes to one day apologize in person.


Load Comments