Staff Editorial: Bin Laden has become a martyr

Andrew Fergin

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Public outrage over former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuting the sentence of Esteban Nunez (one of four men convicted for the murder of Mesa College student Luis Santos) from 16 years to 7 years has been wide spread, and rightly so. From the moment of filing the commutation Schwarzenegger has been nothing short of insincere at best and blatantly insulting at worst.

That Schwarzenegger waited until the final moments of his term as governor to instate the commute speaks volume already about how much he was concerned about seeing justice delivered versus how concerned he was for his political career.

In his justification for the commute itself, Schwarzenegger showed an absolute lack of regard for the viciousness of Nunez’s roll in the events surrounding Santos’ murder.

In part of his explanation for the commute Schwarzenegger wrote “Considering Nunez’s limited role in the killing and his clean prior criminal record, I believe his sentence is disproportionate in comparison to Jett’s (the individual who stabbed Santos).” While admittedly Nunez did not kill Santos first hand (he aided and abetted Jett), given that Nunez stabbed two other people who were with Santos at the time of the murder (very nearly adding two more people to the body count and encouraging his friend to kill Santos) it is a far cry from the truth to define Nunez’ part as having been a “limited roll”.

In an gesture of good will and good publicity Schwarzenegger sent the Santos family a letter informing them of his decision to commute Nunez’s sentence and why. While symbolic, much of the gesture’s good intention was lost to the fact that it took so long to reach the family that by the time it arrived the Santos family before the news was old enough that the family had already been informed of the sentence commute by a reporter who called to ask them how they felt about it.

This isn’t a criticism of Schwarzenegger’s decision to commute Nunez’s sentence, while questionable, there is a far greater issue at hand. The manner in which Schwarzenegger dealt with the whole ordeal was inexcusably demeaning to the memory of Luis Santos.

Downplaying Nunez, the man who stabbed two of Santos friends during their encounter and urged Jett on to kill Santos as merely being a “limited roll” is nothing short of revolting. That after this Schwarzenegger couldn’t be bothered to ensure that his letter found the Santos family before they received the news instead from a complete stranger over the phone is not just insincere, it’s a transparent ploy to drum up some good press. If Schwarzenegger had been more candid there would be no issue.

That Schwarzenegger instead chose to portray it as an effort to seek justice however, is nothing short of stepping on Luis Santo’s grave.