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Wrongful death lawsuit filed against son of ex-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez in stabbing death

January 26, 2011 |  1:23 pm

The parents of a San Diego college student who was fatally stabbed in 2008 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his four assailants, including the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez.

The lawsuit, on behalf of Fred and Kathy Santos of Concord, was filed in San Diego County Superior Court by the firm Estey Bomberger, which specializes in wrongful death cases. The suit seeks unspecified damages from Esteban Nuñez, Ryan Jett, Rafael Garcia and Leshanor Thomas, all of whom pleaded guilty in the case.

The suit is separate from that filed by the Santos family against former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who reduced Esteban Nuñez's sentence from 16 years to 7 years. That lawsuit asserts that the governor violated the state's Victims Bill of Rights by not notifying the Santos family of his pending decision and allowing them to argue against it.

Luis Santos, 22, was stabbed to death when Nuñez and his three friends started a street brawl out of anger at being blocked from attending a fraternity party adjacent to San Diego State University.

Nuñez and Jett pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon; Thomas and Garcia pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Nuñez and Jett were both sentenced to 16 years.

Schwarzenegger based his decision to reduce Nuñez's sentence on evidence that it was Jett who plunged the knife into Luis Santos' heart, not Nuñez. He reasoned that it was unfair that Nuñez received the same sentence at Jett.

"A civil jury will ultimately find out the true facts about Mr. Nuñez's involvement and will render a verdict accordingly," said attorney Stephen Estey. "There is nothing the governor will be able to do to disturb or overturn the verdict."

RELATED:

Commuted sentence of Fabian Nuñez's son could spark lawsuit

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

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

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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