LOS ANGELES -- The Concord father of a slain college student said Friday that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed "his true character as a person" by sarcastically uttering a snore when questioned about his decision to reduce the prison sentence of the son of a political ally.
"He is arrogant and insensitive," said Fred Santos, whose son Luis Santos was stabbed to death on the California State University San Diego campus in 2008. Esteban Nunez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for his involvement and received a 16-year sentence.
On his final night as California's governor, Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence to seven years. He did not contact the Santos family or the San Diego County district attorney's office before making the move and has been questioned about his decision ever since.
On Thursday, Schwarzenegger received an award in Hollywood at an environmental conference, after which KCAL television reporter Dave Bryan brought up the subject again.
"Don't ask me the same question, OK, because otherwise you're boring the hell out of me," Schwarzenegger told Bryan. As Bryan pressed further, Schwarzenegger can be heard making a snoring sound.
"To him, doing an injustice just to do a political favor to reduce sentence for a murderer is trivial, like choosing to have orange juice for breakfast," Fred Santos said Friday. "It shows his true character as a person."
The Santos family has been outspoken since the reduction of Nunez's sentence, and in January they filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court to have the original sentence restored. The family sued under Marsy's Law, which amended California's constitution to give victims advance notice of legal proceedings and the right to fight early release of felons. The lawsuit named Schwarzenegger and the state corrections department as defendants.
In his commutation order, Schwarzenegger said Nunez's original punishment did not fit the crime because he was not the one who stabbed Luis Santos during a fight in San Diego. Prosecutors said Nunez was part of a group that became enraged after being turned away from a fraternity party.
Fabian Nunez served three two-year terms in the state Assembly and was speaker from 2004 to 2008. The Los Angeles Democrat cultivated a close relationship with Schwarzenegger that led to their agreement on infrastructure bonds and a landmark law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California.
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this story. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4780.