Nuñez Son Faces Prison After SD Manslaughter Plea
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Prison could be in the future for the son of a longtime California state Assembly speaker.
The 21-year-old Esteban Nunez - son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez - and co-defendant Ryan Jett, 24, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a San Diego college student.
The men, both from Sacramento, could face 16 years in prison when they are sentenced June 25. They also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. They were being held without bail.
Prosecutors said Esteban Nunez, Jett and two other men were angry because they were refused entry to the party and attacked Luis Dos Santos, a 22-year-old San Diego Mesa College student, who was stabbed in the chest, near San Diego State University on Oct. 4, 2008.
The two defendants first were charged with murder, assault, vandalism, conspiracy to commit an assault and conspiracy to destroy evidence. If convicted, they both could have faced 25 years to life behind bars.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the plea was an "appropriate resolution" given the strength of the case.
Defense attorney Brad Patton said the men acted in self-defense after getting into a fight with the victim as they left the party.
Patton said Esteban Nunez, though armed with a knife, did not stab Dos Santos but agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter to avoid the possibility of getting a life term if the case went to trial.
"It was a very, very difficult decision for the family to work through this," Patton said. "We very much wanted to go to trial to get the real truth of the case out but it's a tragic situation all the way around and Esteban is ready to take responsibility for his role in the event."
The two other men involved in the case pleaded to lesser charges.
Rafael Garcia, 21, of Sacramento pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to destroy evidence. He could face up to three years in prison at his sentencing on June 24.
Leshanor Thomas, 21, also of Sacramento, pleaded guilty in February to one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon. He could face up to four years, eight months in prison.
Esteban Nunez was arrested the same year his father ended his Assembly tenure as the longest serving speaker in California's era of legislative term limits in 2008.
Fabian Nunez, now a consultant for New-York based Mercury Public Affairs, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
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