SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The son of former California state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez will be freed from prison within days, prison officials said Friday, the result of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's much criticized 2011 decision to commute half the manslaughter sentence for his political ally's child.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino said Esteban Nunez will be paroled within a week, though he wouldn't give the exact day for security reasons.
Nunez, now 27, entered prison in June 2010 to serve a 16-year sentence in the stabbing death of college student Luis Santos in San Diego. Schwarzenegger, on his last day in office in 2011, reduced the sentence to seven years.
Nunez is the son of Fabian Nunez, who was speaker of the state Assembly while Schwarzenegger was governor.
"We continue to grieve over the losses related to our son's involvement in this tragic incident and pray daily for God's healing grace," Nunez's family said in a statement. "Our son has paid his debt to society .... He is committed to continuing the work of healing, self-reflection, and spiritual growth."
Schwarzenegger did not respond to requests for comment. He said at the time that he acted because he thought the 16-year sentence was excessive, but he also acknowledged he was helping a friend.
The victim's parents, Frederico and Kathy Santos, and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis sued in a failed bid to overturn the shortened sentence.
"Two politicians were basically able to get one of their sons off the hook for murder? How is that even allowed?" Kathy Santos said Friday.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento last year upheld Schwarzenegger's power to reduce the sentence, even as justices variously said the sentence reduction could be viewed as "reprehensible" and "grossly unjust."
"Back-room dealings were apparent," the court wrote of Schwarzenegger's decision.
The state Supreme Court has not yet said if it will consider an appeal of that ruling.
Santos was a student at San Diego's Mesa College when he was killed in October 2008. He died during a confrontation with Nunez and his friends after they were turned away from a party near the San Diego State University campus.