Bail Reduced For Man Accused In Fatal Stabbing

Ryan Jett Among 4 Accused In Death Of Student Luis Santos

A likely March trial date prompted a judge Monday to reduce bail from $1 million to $350,000 for a Sacramento man accused in the fatal stabbing of a college student and the wounding of three others during a fight last year near San Diego State University.

Ryan Jett, 23, is the only defendant out of four still jailed in connection with the Oct. 4, 2008, stabbing death of 22-year-old Luis Santos.

Esteban Nunez, the 20-year-old son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Rafael Garcia posted $1 million bail shortly after their arrests. Leshanor Thomas, 20, posted $250,000 bail after a preliminary hearing in April.

Garcia, the 20-year-old son of an administrative law judge, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to destroy evidence and agreed to cooperate with authorities in the case against his co-defendants.

Attorneys for Nunez and Thomas told Judge Robert F. O'Neill Monday that they wanted a trial date set for March 29, but Jett's attorney, Terry Zimmerman, argued that would be unfair since Jett was the only defendant still unable to make bail.

O'Neill set pretrial motions and Jett's trial for Nov. 5, with the expectation that the issue of whether the remaining three defendants will be tried together will be discussed at that time.

Zimmerman said she was hopeful that Jett's custody status will be changed by then.

Jett was on probation for a weapons violation at the time of the killing in San Diego.

He, Nunez and Thomas are charged with murder, assault, vandalism, conspiracy to commit an assault and conspiracy to destroy evidence.

A judge in April found that Nunez, Garcia and Jett were "talking smack" and "looking for trouble" at the apartment of Garcia's cousin in the hours leading up to the fatal confrontation.

The defendants were upset after being turned away from a nearby fraternity party, according to evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.

Attorneys for the defendants said their clients were acting in self-defense after a fight broke out.

A witness told detectives that Santos told him just before the fight that he carried a "piece" and wouldn't back down from anyone, and apparently the defendants' group overheard the remarks.

Deputy District Attorney Jill DiCarlo said that all of the defendants were liable for the killing even though they didn't intend to kill Santos.

Once they returned to the home of Garcia's brother in San Diego after the fight, Thomas drove everyone back to their homes in Sacramento, according to friend John Murray.

On the trip north, Jett and Nunez said the knives "should be gotten rid of," Murray testified. Once back in the Sacramento area, Jett got some gas at a convenience store and burned some clothes near a river, the witness said.

He said he overheard Jett and Nunez talk about throwing knives in the river, but felt uncomfortable and walked back to his truck before Nunez, Garcia and Jett returned.

According to Murray, once everybody got back in the truck, Jett and Nunez said "we weren't to speak about this instance again," referring to what happened at the river.

Garcia faces a sentence from probation to three years in prison. The other defendants could face up to 25 years to life behind bars if convicted.