Breed’s brother Napoleon Brown has been in prison for nearly 22 years for the death of Lenties White, but got his long-sought resentencing Monday, a resentencing that could see him released within a year.
It is not a secret that San Francisco Mayor London Breed has a brother in prison for his role in a June 2000 armed robbery gone wrong, which resulted in the death of his girlfriend and getaway driver Lenties White. And it’s not unfair to wonder if Breed has been trying to put her thumb on the scales of justice to win his early release; she lobbied then-DA George Gascón to reopen the case in 2014 when she was still District 5 supervisor (he declined), and once she was mayor, she petitioned then-governor Jerry Brown in 2018 to release her brother from prison (he too declined).
Yet the following year, an SF judge ruled Napoleon Brown could seek resentencing in light of changes to state manslaughter sentencing rules. One recall of Chesa Boudin later, Breed had her hand-picked new district attorney in Brooke Jenkins, whose office would prosecute any potential resentencing. Jenkins tried to hand off the case to state AG Rob Bonta, who politely refused it.
While Brown was convicted for murder, carjacking and multiple robbery charges in 2005, recent state legal changes drew his murder charge down to a manslaughter charge. The courts deemed Brown was eligible for resentencing in March of this year. And that resentencing happened Monday, and the SF Standard reports Brown had his sentence reduced to 31 years instead of the original 44-year sentence.
But more significantly, because of the new resentencing rules and the time Brown has already served, he could be released within a year. The Chronicle reports that decision belongs to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, noting that process “would take up to five days.”
“We are happy that the sentence was reduced by 13 years. We’re disappointed it wasn't reduced further,” Brown's attorney Marc Zilversmit told the Standard.
The incidents that led to White’s June 2000 death started with Brown and an associate robbing a Johnny Rockets in the Marina. They reportedly pistol-whipped the manager while making off with $7,000-$10,000 in cash, and locked the employees in the basement. White drove the getaway car, but was pushed out on the Golden Gate Bridge, where she was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
While DA Jenkins did personally recuse herself from the case, her office still opposed and prosecuted the case against Brown’s resentencing. Chief assistant district attorney Ana Gonzalez read a statement from one of Brown’s robbery victims Monday that said, “I ask that you please not release him on behalf of me and my family. I fear for my life.”
Napoleon Brown will now almost certainly serve a lighter sentence than the original 44 years. Getting released a mere year out from now is his best-case scenario, though not a far-fetched one.
Yet if Brown were released just a year from now, that would put him out barely three months before Breed faces the 2024 mayoral election. So what was a political hot potato for DA Brooke Jenkins could become one for Breed too, because of the optics of her brother killing someone, and conveniently getting out of jail during her tenure as mayor.
Image: @LondonBreed via Twitter