The parents of Luis Santos filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several parties late last week, including Esteban Nuñez, the son of former California Assembly speaker Fabian Nuñez.
Nuñez and several friends, all also named in the suit, began a street brawl when they were told they were not permitted into a fraternity party in 2008. In the following fight, Luis Santos was stabbed and killed. The defendants ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges, and Governor Schwarzenegger intervened to reduce Esteban Nuñez’ sentence from 16 to 7 years.
This wrongful death lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages from Nuñez, Ryan Jett, Rafael Garcia and Leshanor Thomas, the defendants in the original case. Garcia and Thomas were charged with lesser offenses than Nuñez and Jett, who received the stiffest sentences.
Interestingly, this case is runs parallel to a case filed by Santos’ parents against Governor Schwarzenegger. In that case, the parents are arguing that the Governor violated the California victim’s bill of rights when he reduced Nuñez’ sentence without contacting the Santos family. Their attorney argues that they should have had the right to be present at arguments for the sentence reduction and allowed to argue against it. Instead, the Governor made his decision unilaterally.
When asked for his rationale for the decision, Schwarzenegger said that the court testimony had revealed it was Jett, not Nuñez, who actually stabbed Luis Santos for the fatal blow. Thus it did not make sense to him that the two should receive the same sentence for what were essentially different crimes.
The attorney for the Santos family was quoted as saying that the civil trial would reveal the “true facts” of Nuñez’ role in the case, and that in this matter the Governor would not be able to interfere, overturn or reduce the penalty imposed by the court in any way.