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Schwarzenegger sent apology letter to victim's family after commuting Esteban Nuñez's sentence

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter of apology to the father of Luis Dos Santos after he commuted the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez.

Santos was killed outside a party in San Diego in 2008, and Nuñez's son, Esteban Nuñez, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the slaying -- the same sentence given to Santos' killer.

Just hours before Schwarzenegger was set to leave office Jan. 2, he reduced Esteban' Nuñez's sentence by more than half.

"It is with heavy heart that I write to you in acknowledgment that my commutation of Esteban Nuñez  has caused you more pain," Schwarzenegger wrote in a letter dated Jan. 5 and posted on the KNX-AM (1070) website. "I recognize that the last-minute nature of my final acts as Governor provided you no notice, no time to prepare for or absorb the impact of this decision. For that I apologize."

Fred Santos told KNX he is considering taking legal action over the commuted sentence. He said he and his family were not warned about the impending commutation.

“Basically, we think that our constitutional rights as victims have been violated because we were not notified,” Santos told the station Wednesday.

The reduction of Esteban Nuñez’s sentence from 16 years to seven years, one of Schwarzenegger’s last acts before leaving office, sparked cries of dismay from prosecutors and accusations of cronyism by legal experts.

Santos said Schwarzenegger's letter did little to assuage his feelings.

“The context of the letter was to give some excuses ... we do not believe in the sincerity of his letter,” Santos told the station.

The decision to trim the sentence is "100% politics and nothing but," Santos said.

Fabian Nuñez grew close to Schwarzenegger while serving as speaker of the Assembly. The two worked to pass the state's landmark global-warming law, and Nuñez is now a business partner of the governor's chief political advisor at the consulting firm Mercury Public Affairs.

The stabbing took place in October 2008 after Esteban Nuñez and three friends had spent a night partying and drinking near San Diego State University. After the group was refused entry into a fraternity party, they set upon Santos, a student at San Diego Mesa College, and several other young men.

Although Nuñez did not stab Santos, he stabbed another young man in the stomach. Nuñez was sentenced to 16 years for his role in the brawl -- the same sentence given to Santos’ killer, Ryan Jett.

Schwarzenegger issued an executive order sealing the correspondence he had received on the Nunez commutation and all other clemency cases that had gone before him.

The move was unnecessary because unless a governor chooses to release the documents, all gubernatorial clemency records are sealed by law automatically for 25 years after a case is closed.

Santos said the action proved Schwarzenegger "knew what he was doing was wrong."

"He knew this was wrong and he wanted to keep it a secret," Santos said.


Fabian Nuñez gave Kindle to official at prison where son is serving sentence

Father 'outraged' Schwarzenegger reduced sentence of politician's son in murder case

Villaraigosa won't say if he backs Schwarzenegger's decision to cut prison time for Nuñez's son

-- Kate Linthicum

Comments () | Archives (66)

Hopefully this will ruin any political future of Fabian Nunez and severly hurt box office of any film Schwartzenegger is in!

Arnold is a girlie man after all...

How compassionate and meaningful that he sent a letter to the Santos' telling them he was kicking their son's murderer loose! What a "down in flames" disappointment the governator turned out to be, from beginning to end.

Arnold, for this act you should be ashamed. I voted for you. For you a parent, a father of children-this makes no sense. I believe you put your children and the children of every parent behind this decision to commute the sentence of Nunez. There was alot of publicity from politicans who came forward to aid the family against any conviction, everyone was watching and hoping for a just sentence. How can there be "any" dismissal of criminal acts against taking the life of one of our children. The word "excessive" is off the radar-there is no such option for this family, their "excessive" is life changing-their loss of a beautiful child who was getting an education-and who was murdered in cold blood by those with no human qualities. This decision will follow you-it will forever cost you the public's trust, be it the entertainment industry, the environment, politics, or any endeavor with your name attached.

I don't know, it just seems he made an error (if it was an error) on the side of compassion. It doesn't really change much since he would have been let out on parole about the same time anyway and the publicity surrounding this will assure he won't get a parole on the lesser sentence. It certainly is not an unusual commute and does seem weird that he was originally sentenced for the murder committed by someone else. Non-story really. This happens almost every month in the United States, some are connected and wealthy and some are not. You look at the other commutes made the last few years, this was the only rich kid so its a bit of stretch to single out the one and claim it to be anything than what it is. Than what does that make the other one's? I am sure there are victim families for the other commutes except they don't have the money and PR staff to get themselves in the news. So basically, there's people out there that want to play politics, let them, just leave the rest of us out of it.

Where is my letter. He needs to apologize to the citizenry also.

They act in your name.

I wonder how Jett feels about that, eh?

Schwarzenegger is a coward and a sell-out; he is indeed a terminator. he has destroyed California and has pierced the hearts of the Santos Family.

One can only hope that we will not have to ever view again his flabby former muscled body nor listen to his excuses infused with insincerity and gutteral noise.

Remember his father's past; one cannot escape genetics...

In his 6 years or so as Governor, Schwarzenegger commuting Nunez's sentence was his worst decision. He ended his term in disgrace.

Schwarzenegger has four children. I wonder how HE would feel if one of them was harmed by someone who had their prison sentence reduced because of political connections.

So the letter was sent after?? Not before?? He knew this would have came up in the news and most likely would not have reduced the sentence.. I hope he can sleep well at night for this stupidity that Arnold did... What a low blow to deliver to a family that will never get to see or hold their son...

Was destroying California not enough for this scumbag he also had to let a convicted murderer go easy too?

I feel bad for the Santos family, and I think ex-governor Schwarzenegger committed a travesty of justice in commuting the punk Nuñez's sentence, but Fred Santos lost some of my sympathy when he started moaning about his family's "constitutional rights as victims" having been violated. There are no such constitutional rights, and they aren't victims. Their son (and the other young man whom the Nuñez punk stabbed) were the victims of the crimes.

This society is the worse for people being prone to think of themselves as victims.

My understanding of the case is that both the plea and the sentence were bargained for by the Defendant, Mr. Nunez. Both sides worked out a deal and Mr. Nunez accepted the sentence. Implicit in that is an acknowledgment that the sentence is and was fair. Otherwise, he could have taken his chances and gone to trial.
Mr. Schwarzenegger's commutation of the sentence after it was agreed upon by both parties (The DA and The Defendant) stinks to high heaven and leaves his legacy tarnished and dirty.

A very poor decision by the ex-governor followed up by a meaningless apology. Favors for friends, not the right way to end his term.

I have sympathy for the Santos family,and nothing but contempt for Arnie and Nunez, but the comment about legal action over his constitutional rights left me cold. He is a victim by extension, but his son was the actual victim, and the one with constitutional rights. This looks more like a money grab to me.

cynic, the nunez boy did not stab santos.

Yuck, Arnold. This decision will haunt you for the rest of your life, as it should.

What an outrageous insult. He abused his authority.

Sue the pants off Arnold.

This is the second time I haven't seen my comments posted....How do you pick and choose?

The majority of Californians believe that Gov. Schwarzenegger was morally wrong in his commutation of Estaban Nunez' sentence, or there was a corrupt agreement between Fabian Nunez and himself, or that he was a push over.

Arnie has ruined his reputation, feels like a corrupt move...

The sentence for first degree murder is only twenty-five years. Most Californians view the sentences handed down by court as lenient. Gov Schwartenegger said that Nunez' sentence was excessive and commuted it to seven years. Now that was outrageous! A 400 dollar speeding ticket is excessive, right?

The father of Evan Henderson, a young man who was stabbed twice but not fatally, once in the back - then in the stomach, by Esteban Núñez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, is angered that outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shortened the young Núñez's prison term by 12 years after Esteban Núñez plead Guilty to the stabbing's.

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