Another new legal ruling Monday in the case of Mayor Breed’s brother could potentially see him released from prison, where he’s been for 20 years, as he’s now eligible for a resentencing that will likely lower his sentence.
The 2000 death of Bayview resident Lenties White has taken on a different light in recent years, pretty much because accused killer Napoleon Brown happens to San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s brother. And there’s a perception she’s tried to tip the scales of justice in his favor a few times since Brown’s 2005 murder conviction, most notably Breed’s 2018 letter to then-Governor Jerry Brown asking the governor to commute the remainder of her brother’s sentence. (Governor Brown declined.)
And the optics seemed a little fishy after Breed appointed Brooke Jenkins as district attorney, with Napoleon Brown seeking a lighter resentencing, and Jenkins’s office therefore on tap to handle the prosecution in that resentencing. A normal person might allege Jenkins would go light on this one, to please the mayor who appointed her? That’s why Jenkins asked state AG Rob Bonta to recuse her from the case, which Bonta shot down, so now Jenkins’s office is prosecuting the case against lowering that prison sentence.
And as of Monday, the likelihood increased that Breed’s brother will get his sentence reduced. The Chronicle reports that an SF Superior Court judge ruled that Napoleon Brown is eligible to be resentenced, and various state law changes indicate that resentencing will be a reduction in sentence, not an increase.
Brown was convicted of murder in 2005, but in appeals, that has since been reduced to an involuntary manslaughter charge. Some 2018 changes to California murder law give Brown’s attorneys hope they can get him more legal relief; while Brown was found guilty of pushing Lenties White out of a moving car to her death, defense will argue that Brown was not the “real killer,” and the motorist who ran her over was. That could get Brown a seriously reduced sentence, and with more than 20 years served, could even make him a free man.
It's not a complete slam dunk — and Brown has had time added to his sentence for using illegal narcotics in prison. But while we call this a “resentencing,” any change to the sentence would almost surely be a reduction. How much of a reduction is currently anyone’s guess. But yes, there is a possibility the Mayor Breed’s brother would be out of prison while she’s still mayor, and this could happen on the watch of her hand-picked DA.
Image: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 02: San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks onstage during the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)