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Former Assembly Speaker’s Son Accused of Murder

The son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez was under arrest on suspicion of murder Wednesday, after San Diego police took the 19-year-old and three friends into custody for the stabbing death of a college student, authorities said.

Police were to take Esteban Nunez and three others from the Sacramento area to San Diego, where the teens were set to face one count of murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, San Diego Police Captain Jim Collins said.

After a two-month investigation, Esteban Nunez was arrested Tuesday afternoon as he left his father's Sacramento home. The other three suspects also were arrested Tuesday in the Sacramento area, and all four spent the night in jail there. They were expected to arrive in San Diego Wednesday afternoon, Collins said.

San Diego police detectives had searched the Northern California homes of all four suspects about a week after the Oct. 4 incident.

"The subjects knew about the warrants," Collins told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They just didn't know when the hammer would fall."

Arrest warrants for the four men were issued Monday.

Nunez spokesman Steve Maviglio said the former speaker would travel to San Diego to be with his son on Wednesday, but would have nothing to say Tuesday night.

"He's home with his family and has no comment," Maviglio said.

Ryan Jett, Leshanor Thomas and Rafael Garcia, all 19, will face the same charges, police said.

Collins said they would likely make their first court appearance Friday.

Police allege that the four men got into a fight with the victim, Luis Santos, 22, and four of his friends as they left a party near San Diego State University. Three young men were stabbed and Santos, a student at San Diego Mesa College, died at the scene.

"I'm glad they arrested the people involved in my son's murder," Santos' father Fred Santos, who lives in Concord, told the Union-Tribune. "Who these people are, who their parents are, doesn't make the pain less or more. It changes nothing. Nothing can bring my son back."

Esteban Nunez and at least one of the other suspects are college students in the Sacramento area, Collins said, and were visiting San Diego when the fight broke out.

"They came down here to visit friends and party," Collins said.

A female witness came forward in the hours just after the fight and told police she had information about the suspects, allowing police to trace them to Sacramento, Collins said.

One of the suspects was injured during the brawl, Collins said, but would not specify which one. He said no one else was arrested in connection with the fight.

Phone and e-mail messages left late Tuesday with Carlsbad defense attorney C. Bradley Patton, who according to media reports would be representing Esteban Nunez, were not immediately returned.

Fabian Nunez, 41, was the longest-serving speaker in California's era of term limits. The Los Angeles Democrat cultivated a close relationship with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that resulted in landmark changes in the state's global warming and labor laws.

Fabian Nunez was unsuccessful in a bid to extend his own tenure in office. In February, voters rejected a ballot initiative designed by Nunez and other Democrats to change the state's term-limits law.

This week he started a new job in the Sacramento office of the New York-based consulting firm Mercury Public Affairs.
 

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