Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized to relatives of a slain San Diego college student for failing to advise them that he was cutting in half the prison term of the son of a former California Assembly speaker, the victim's father said Wednesday.
"We received a letter last Saturday from our former governor saying that he acknowledges that he did not give us any notice of what he was planning to do," Fred Santos told KNX radio in Los Angeles.
In his last hours in office, Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence of Esteban Nunez, the 21-year-old son of former California Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez, from 16 to seven years.
The Santos family has been critical of Schwarzenegger's actions, accusing him of granting a favor to a political ally.
Luis Santos was a 22-year-old business student at San Diego's Mesa College, when he was stabbed to death on the San Diego State University campus in 2008. Three other people were wounded.
Prosecutors say three Sacramento men were angry after being refused entry to a fraternity party and attacked the unarmed group.
Esteban Nunez later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors say he stabbed two other men but not Santos.
Schwarzenegger's commutation document noted that Esteban Nunez had no previous criminal record. It also noted that he received the same sentence as co-defendant Ryan Jett, even though Jett actually stabbed Santos and has a significant criminal record.
"I believe his sentence is disproportionate in comparison to Jett's," Schwarzenegger said in the order.
Jett, 25, also pleaded guilty.
In his letter to the family of Santos, Schwarzenegger "tried to give some excuses on his actions and then with an apology," Fred Santos said. "We do not believe the sincerity of his apology."
Santos also said the family was seeking legal advice about possibly filing a lawsuit against the governor.
"We think that our constitutional rights as victims have been violated because we were not notified of the actions prior to this," he said.
Daniel Ketchell, a Schwarzenegger aide, confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the letter had been sent to the Santos family.
"Beyond that, I have no further comment at this time," the message said.
While governor, Schwarzenegger worked closely with Fabian Nunez on budgets and the state's landmark global warming law. Nunez is now a political consultant who works with a former Schwarzenegger communications director.
"Definitely it's 100 percent politics and nothing but," Santos told KNX.
Esteban Nunez's attorney, Bradley Patton, has denied there was political favoritism and said he believes his client actually received an unfairly harsh sentence from the judge because of his father's position.