By Christine Pelisek, reporting from San Diego
Esteban Nunez, the 20-year-old son of former state Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles political powerhouse Fabian Nunez, took a plea deal on Wednesday in the case of a stabbing death at San Diego State University in the fall of 2008.
Nunez and co-defendant Ryan Jett each pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and two counts of
assault with a deadly weapon and could each face up to 16 years in prison for the stabbing death of Luis Santos on the night of Oct. 4. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24.
The pair had been charged with murder after allegedly confronting Santos following a drunken frat-party outing. Santos had a knife stabbed into the left ventricle of his heart and was left to die in a pool of blood. Two other defendants, Rafael Garcia and Leshanor Thomas, already made plea deals.
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After the plea agreement was announced Wednesday afternoon and the duo was taken away by bailiffs Nunez's mother initially refused to leave and cried, "I love you son."
Nunez and two of the four buddies grew up in suburban Sacramento and had fashioned themselves as "The Hazard Crew" (a risky nom-de-nerds, since there is a vicious and very real Hazard gang here in Los Angeles). Nunez prized his connections, including the Las Vegas Palms-hotel-owning Maloof brothers. Jett was a private-school bro.
As the alcohol-fueled foursome walked on the streets near campus they apparently heard Santos claim he had "a piece" and, armed with at least one knife, confronted him with fatal results.
The trial was supposed to start Monday with jury selection, but when that was delayed there was speculation that the defendants were trying to cut deals.