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Schwarzenegger commutes prison sentence of Fabian Nunez's son

January 02, 2011|Evan Halper

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 murder 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 stabbing death of college student Luis Dos Santos, 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's 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.

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