Fabian Nunez’s son, whose manslaughter sentence was commuted by Schwarzenegger, to be freed


The son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez whose conviction in the death of a college student was commuted by Arnold Schwarzenegger will soon be a free man.

The parents of victim Luis Santos, who was stabbed to death in a 2008 fight on the San Diego State University campus involving Esteban Núñez and others, said this week that they have been notified of his impending release.

The pair spoke Thursday at a victim’s rights rally in the state capital where they told CBS Sacramento it would happen within a week.


Nunez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for his part in the brawl and was sentenced in 2010 to 16 years in prison.

But the following year, then-Governor Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence to just seven years saying that Nunez, whose father was a political ally, had no prior criminal record and that the sentence was excessive.

When asked if his ruling had anything to do with his relationship with Núñez , Schwarzenegger was later quoted as saying “Well, hello! I mean, of course you help a friend.”

The commutation of the sentence outraged the Santos family who called it politically motivated and sued to have it overturned but a state appeals court upheld the clemency in 2015.

News that Núñez would soon be out of prison only heaped more anguish on the still-grieving parents.

“We are serving a life sentence and our son’s murderer is not, because we have to live with this for the rest of our lives with our son’s loss,” said Fred Santos who called the case the “difference between the haves and the have-nots.”


Kathy Santos said that their son would soon have been turning 30 years old and that it was hard to see his friends getting married and having families. She said her son had been “cheated out of life by a group of thugs and he was cheated out of justice due to some well-connected killers.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation relelased the following statement this morning.

“Inmate Esteban Núñez will be paroled within a week. As is our practice in all cases, CDCR does not release the exact date, time, or place of a parole release due to safety concerns for the public, the staff, and the inmate. Núñez was received on June 30, 2010.”

Debbi Baker is a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune