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Fabian Nunez speaks about son's commutation

May 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is addressing for the first time the firestorm resulting from Arnold Schwarzenegger's reduction of his son's manslaughter prison sentence.

Nunez talked about the remorse and guilt he has over his son's crime. He feels that his son is an extension of himself. But Nunez also feels his son got a raw deal, targeted because he's the son of a politician. The victim's family isn't buying it.

"He's paying a big, big price for his actions," said former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Asked if Esteban is sorry, Nunez replied, "Absolutely."

For the first time, Fabian Nunez talks publicly about his imprisoned son, Esteban, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Esteban, 22, is serving a seven-year sentence for his role in the killing college student Luis Santos in October 2008, during a fight in San Diego.

The once-powerful Democrat says he's not looking for sympathy considering what the other family is going through.

"There's a family out there involved in the same incident that suffering a lot more than we are," said Nunez.

Public outrage erupted when Nunez's close friend, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, took a look at his son's case and commuted the sentence to seven years just before he left office.

Nunez felt the original 16-year sentence was unjust because it was the same punishment as the man who actually stabbed Santos.

"I think what drove him to do this was not so much that he's my friend -- it's that he saw the grave injustice that the judge committed," said Nunez.

That commutation angered the Santos family, who have been on a mission to reinstate the original prison term and take away such executive powers from governors.

Reached by phone, Kathy Santos, the slain student's mother, says she doesn't believe Nunez's sincerity.

"I don't feel that's an apology. And remember, he can go give his son a hug in prison anytime," said Santos.

"Some of that criticism is well-taken and I understand it. But I would argue that most parents would do anything for their children," said Nunez.

The Nunezes have tried to reach out to the Santos family, but they refused. Nunez hopes to be able to apologize to the family one day.


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