Crime - Sacto 911

Son of former Assembly speaker to be released from prison soon

Esteban Nunez
Esteban Nunez California Department of Corrections

Esteban Núñez, son of Fabian Núñez, former Assembly speaker, will be released from prison within a week, according to corrections officials.

Esteban Núñez has been serving his sentence at Mule Creek Prison in Ione. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Friday that Esteban Núñez, 27, will be paroled within a week, but the department does not divulge exact release dates for security reasons.

In June, a Sacramento appellate court ruled that it was not illegal for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to drastically reduce the prison term of Esteban Núñez without notifying the prosecutors and the crime victims, but it “could be seen as deserving of censure and grossly unjust.” Fabian Núñez was a Schwarzenegger ally.

Esteban Núñez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other charges stemming from the stabbing death of Mesa College student Luis Santos after Esteban Núñez and his friends had been turned away from a party near the San Diego State University campus on Oct. 4, 2008. He was sentenced to 16 years behind bars.

Schwarzenegger intervened, granting a clemency application to reduce the sentence to seven years. The governor’s executive order was signed on Dec. 30, 2010, but not announced until hours before he left office on Jan. 2, 2011.

The San Diego County district attorney initiated a legal challenge to the commutation on behalf of the state and three surviving victims of the knife attack. Santos’ parents, Fred and Kathy Santos, filed a related lawsuit.

But in September 2012, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled in Schwarzenegger’s favor, finding that the California statute known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights does not apply to clemency proceedings.

The plaintiffs appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, and, on June 2, 2015, a three-justice panel of that court upheld Connelly’s decision.

Friday afternoon, the Núñez family issued an emailed statement: “We continue to grieve over the losses related to our son’s involvement in this tragic incident and pray daily for God’s healing grace. Our son has paid his debt to society and will continue to meet all legal and financial obligations to the victim’s family as agreed. He is committed to continuing the work of healing, self-reflection and spiritual growth. We respectfully request our privacy at this time.”

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews