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Commuted sentence of Fabian Nuñez's son could spark lawsuit

January 12, 2011 |  9:36 am

One week after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez in the stabbing death of a San Diego college student, the victim's father said he plans to take legal action.

Fred Santos, whose son, Luis Dos Santos, was killed outside a party in 2008, told KNX-AM (1070) that he and his family were not warned about the impending commutation and he may file a lawsuit calling for it to be overturned.

“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 sent a letter of apology to the family after the outcry.

“He acknowledges that he did not give us any notice of what he was planning to do,” Santos said. “The context of the letter was to give some excuses ... we do not believe in the sincerity of his letter.”

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 reduced Nunez’s sentence by more than half Jan. 2, his last day in office, and issued an executive order sealing the correspondence he had received on it 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