Schwarzenegger Gives Convicted Knife Fighter a Break: What About the Victim?

Jenny Erikson
Jenny Erikson
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spent his last moment in office Monday morning grabbing a cigar and wishing luck to returning Governor Jerry Brown. Before he lit up in a pubic building in one of the most anti-smoking states in the Union, the Governator reduced the sentence of the punk son of one of his political cronies.

Esteban Nunez (now 21), the son of former California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, was serving 16 years in prison for manslaughter, which he pleaded guilty to. In the fall of 2008, young Nunez and three of his hooligan friends went drinking in San Diego and tried to crash a frat party. They got tossed out, so they did what all sensible young men do when their feelings are hurt: They went looking for trouble.


The group of miscreants eventually found Luis Santos and his friends and challenged them to a knife fight. The fight ended with Santos’s death. Sharp metal pointy things thrust through the heart do have a tendency to kill people. (As a side note, maybe we should ban all knives in order to make the world a safer place … that would work, right?)

Nunez pleaded guilty to manslaughter to avoid the harsher sentence that would come with a murder conviction. Judge Robert O’Neill imposed the longest sentence he could on Nunez, saying, “Everything you do in life has a consequence.”

In other words, if you don’t want to go to prison or die in a knife fight, don’t go carousing around with knives looking to cause a raucous.

Luckily for Esteban Nunez, his daddy is someone super important in California politics. His father Fabian worked closely with Schwarzenegger to pass the state’s own version of a cap and tax law, which will limit carbon emissions in the Golden State by driving all businesses to Texas. The elder Nunez is now “a business partner of the governor's chief political advisor,” and was no-doubt owed a favor in some capacity by the outgoing governor.

On Sunday, Schwarzenegger reduced Nunez’s prison sentence to seven years, because even though he was out on patrol for trouble and involved in a knife fight, his blow wasn’t the fatal wound. He said in a statement:

I do not discount the gravity of the offense. But given Nuñez's limited role in Santos' death, and considering that … Nuñez had no criminal record prior to this offense, I believe Nuñez's sentence is excessive.

That makes sense because carrying around a sharp pointy knife and poking people with it should be punished more harshly only if you hit a major artery. Note to gangsters everywhere: Take a biology class and figure out where the ‘safe stab zones’ are to avoid your victim’s untimely death.

The victim’s family had not been notified, and had to hear about it through the press. Fred Santos, the father of stabbed-to-death Luis Santos, issued his own statement:

The governor did not even have the courtesy to notify the victim's family. This is dirty politics: cutting backroom deals. I guess if you're the son of somebody important, you can kill someone and get all sorts of breaks.

Given incidents like that, it’s not surprising that Governor Schwarzenegger left office with a 22% approval rating


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