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Monday, January 3, 2011

Gov. Schwarzenegger's Shameful Commute of Sentence for Political Ally's Son

On his last day in office California's governor Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence of the son of a political ally. Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez had worked with Schwarzenegger on a variety of issues when Speaker, and had, by all accounts, become close to the governor. Fabian's son, Esteben Nunez, had plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of Luis Sanchez near Sand Diego State University and was sentenced in June, 2010. Just before leaving office, Schwarzenegger shaved more than half of Nunez's sentence. (h/t to Michelle Malkin's coverage of this story)

From the June 25, 2010 AP article:

"Ryan Jett, 24, and Esteban Nuñez, 21, son of former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, were sentenced to 16 years in prison, the steepest punishment available under the law. The men had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

"Sentencings for two others involved in the brawl were postponed until Friday.

"'Everything you do in life has a consequence,' Judge Robert O’Neill told Nuñez and Jett. 'People are judged by the company and they keep and the actions they do.'"

A nice sentiment, but of course that's all reversed now. Thanks, Gov. Schwarzenegger.

The AP article continues:

"The four defendants, all from Sacramento, were originally charged with murder and assault. Nuñez and Jett pleaded guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. They also admitted using a knife in the incident and causing great bodily injury.

"Rafael Garcia, 20, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to destroy evidence and faces a possible prison sentence of up to three years. Leshanor Thomas, 21, pleaded guilty in February to assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon. He faces a sentence of up to four years and eight months.

"Deputy District Attorney Jill DiCarlo has said the four men became angry in the early-morning hours of Oct. 4, 2008, after they were kicked out of a fraternity party. They roamed the SDSU campus 'looking for trouble' and eventually challenged Santos and his friends to a fight on 55th Street near Peterson Gym.

"'It’s sadly pathetic that Luis wasn’t even at that fraternity party and yet he paid the ultimate price,' said Kathy Santos, the victim’s mother. The family lives in Concord.

"Prosecutors said Jett fatally stabbed Santos and that Nuñez is legally liable for the death as an aider and abettor. The prosecutor said Nuñez stabbed two other victims, one in the left shoulder and the other in the stomach and back. A fourth man was seriously injured when Thomas punched him in his right eye.

"Defense lawyers have argued that their clients were not the aggressors in the alcohol-fueled brawl and instead acted in self-defense. Nuñez’s lawyer, Brad Patton, said witness statements indicated that Santos may have had a gun.

"Prosecutors have said Santos was not armed.

"After the fight, Thomas drove the men back to Sacramento. According to witness testimony, Jett, Nuñez and Garcia drove to the banks of the Sacramento River where Nuñez placed a plastic bag on the ground containing clothing. Jett doused the bag with gasoline and set it on fire.
Prosecutors said the men tossed knives into the water."

An ugly incident, all the way around. Yet, hardly something worthy of a being commuted... unless your dad is a politically-connected buddy of the governor.

From the L.A. Times article by Evan Halper and Tony Perry:

"In his final night before leaving office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez who had pleaded guilty to taking part in the slaying of a college student.

"Schwarzenegger announced the move in a batch of eleventh-hour press releases e-mailed to reporters. He also announced he was granting several other commutations and pardons and giving plum government appointments to political allies and the spouse of his chief of staff.
Esteban Nuñez, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the October 2008 stabbing death of college student Luis Dos Santos near San Diego State, had his prison term commuted to seven years by the governor. In a statement, the governor noted that Nuñez, while involved in the fight, did not inflict the fatal knife wound to Santos' chest. He cites a finding by the court that it was a friend of Nuñez who stabbed Santos through the chest, 'severing his heart.'

"'I do not discount the gravity of the offense,' Schwarzenegger's statement said. 'But given Nuñez's limited role in Santos' death, and considering that…Nuñez had no criminal record prior to this offense, I believe Nuñez's sentence is excessive.'

"Fabian Nuñez, a Democrat, grew close to the governor while speaker. The two worked together to pass the state's landmark global warming law, which was a signature achievement of Schwarzenegger's time in office. Fabian Nuñez is a business partner of the governor's chief political advisor at the consulting firm Mercury Public Affairs.


"Santos, a software engineer in Concord in Northern California, said Esteban Nuñez 'had already gotten lucky once' when prosecutors accepted a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid standing trial on murder charges, which could have led to a life sentence.

"He said the family was not warned about the impending commutation and learned about it Sunday from reporters. 'The governor did not even have the courtesy to notify the victim’s family,' he said. 'This is dirty politics: cutting backroom deals. I guess if you’re the son of somebody important you can kill someone and get all sorts of breaks.'"

Well, Schwarzenegger certainly thinks that you should get all sorts of breaks...

Schwarzenegger's justifications are nonsense and seems to boil down to "I mean sure Nunez stabbed a few people, but he didn't kill anyone... " Nunez wasn't a guy just waiting in the car. He picked a fight, stabbed two people during the fight, and clearly aided and abetted Jett in the killing of Santos.

As Malkin points out, "This is bipartisan political cronyism at its worst."

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, can you call it "bipartisan" political cronyism if Schwarzenegger is really a sprog in RINO clothing?