Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut the prison sentence that the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez got for his role in the death of a San Diego man outraged officials in that city, who said they had been blindsided, reports the Los Angeles Times. The decision “greatly diminishes justice,” San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. “The district attorney’s office was not consulted and the decision comes as the appeals process was continuing.” San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith accused Schwarzenegger of reducing the sentence to “help his political crony’s son.”
After Esteban Nuñez and his friends attacked a group of men in 2008, leaving one dead, they hopped in a car and drove 500 miles north to Sacramento to burn their clothes and throw their knives in a river. Then, Nuñez told his friends not to worry, his politically connected father, would get them off the hook. On Sunday, as one of his last official acts as governor, Schwarzenegger reduced Nuñez’s sentence by more than half, from 16 to seven years. That drew criticism from the victims’ relatives and others who said that the younger Nuñez benefited from his family name throughout the process and that they wondered why thousands of other prisoners incarcerated on similar charges did not get the same break. Schwarzenegger “has been denying parole to prisoners who have killed somebody and have been model prisoners for years and years, and he hasn’t let them go,” said Don Specter of the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, a prisoner’s rights advocate. At the end of November, there were 3,381 people in California prisons for voluntary manslaughter, to which Nuñez had pleaded guilty. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. There were 7,589 people in prison for conviction under the same statute.