D.A. and local state legislators announce new commutation bill

It was a decision that sparked outrage by the family of a slain college student. Thursday, the family joined the district attorney and local state legislators to announce new legislation aimed at changing the way “commutations are handled by the governor.” KUSI's Ed Lenderman reports on the details.

Everyone associated with Thursday's announcement agrees, if ever there was a need for transparency in government, this issue was it.

“We have lived with enormous heartbreak since the murder of our son and now we live with the nightmare of justice being stolen from us,” statement from Kathy and Fred Santos.

Kathy and Fred Santos had hoped 2011 would bring them a measure of peace–in June of 2010, Esteban Nunez, son of the former speaker of the state assembly, Fabian Nunez, was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of Kathy and Fred's son, Luis.

Luis was killed during a street brawl on the San Diego State University campus. The couple says their pain is still as fresh as ever because of something that happened on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's last day in office, the governor cut the sentence to seven years, saying the sentence was excessive.

The commutation shocked Santos' family and many others, including District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and sparked charges of political favoritism.

The D.A.'s office set out to right what Dumanis says is a terrible injustice. It crafted language in a new bill sponsored by local Assembly Members Marty Block and Nathan Fletcher. The bill, AB 6-48, would require anyone asking the governor for a sentence commutation or pardon to notify the district attorney 30 days before the application is acted upon.

Transparency, all agreed, is the goal here. The governor would still retain the constitutional right to grant commutations and pardons.

While Governor Brown has expressed a resistance to anything that would take away his power to grant commutations and pardons, Marty Block says he believes his bill would be acceptable to him.

We should also note that the Santos' have filed suit in superior court to have former Governor Schwarzenegger's decision overturned and D.A. Bonnie Dumanis says her office is looking into filing a similar suit.

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