On his last day in office Sunday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the manslaughter sentence for Esteban Nunez from 16 years to seven years in prison.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger called Nunez's sentence "excessive." The governor's statement made no mention that that he is friends with Nunez's father, former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Although the elder Nunez is a Democrat, two two worked closely on a number of issues including the governor's global warming bill.
Esteban Nunez, 21, is in state prison for his involvement in the stabbing death of Luis Dos Santos, 22. in 2008, Nunez and his three friends fought with Santos after they were refused entry to a fraternity party near San Diego State University. Nunez's friend, Ryan Jett, was determined to have stabbed Santos. Nunez stabbed another man in the fight but that victim survived. Nunez was initially charged with murder but in a plea bargain, he was convicted of manslaughter.
Santos's parents live in Concord, about 45 minutes east of San Francisco. They told KGO-TV that they are outraged by the decision. (See video on the left.) Kathy and Fred Santos said that the decision shows that there is double standard of justice for those who are politically connected.
"He (the governor) had to come up with some excuse of why he commuted the sentence, and did it in such a sneaky way, on the last day of his office. And he didn't even have the courtesy to notify us," Fred Santos told KGO.
Santos told the Los Angeles Times, "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."
Schwarzenegger's replacement, Jerry Brown, will be sworn into office today.