Brother of San Francisco Mayor Sees Sentence Reduced for Role in Girlfriend’s Death

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
July 25, 2023Newsshare
Brother of San Francisco Mayor Sees Sentence Reduced for Role in Girlfriend’s Death
San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a news conference at the future site of a Transitional Age Youth Navigation Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2020. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A judge on Monday resentenced Napoleon Brown, the brother of San Francisco Mayor London Breed, to a shorter term in prison for his role in the 2000 death of his girlfriend following a robbery.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy reduced Mr. Brown’s sentence from 44 years to 31 years and four months for involuntary manslaughter, armed robbery, and carjacking, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The resentencing comes in the wake of California’s revised legal definition for murder. Judge Conroy ruled in March that Mr. Brown was eligible for resentencing.

“There are mixed emotions,” Mr. Brown’s attorney Marc Zilversmit said in an interview. “We are pleased that the judge recognized that changes in the law required a lower sentence.”

However, he believed the new definition supported an even shorter sentence, adding that the legal team had asked for a greater reduction. According to Mr. Zilversmit, his client has already served nearly 22 years in prison.

In June 2000, Mr. Brown and a companion robbed a San Francisco diner and fled over the Golden Gate Bridge. Lenties White, Mr. Brown’s girlfriend—who was driving the getaway car—somehow fell out of the vehicle. Moments later, she was mortally wounded by a drunk driver who had veered into a safety lane blocked by cones.

With her last words, Ms. White told police that she’d been pushed out of the car by her boyfriend, which eventually led to a murder conviction for Mr. Brown.

A judge later overturned the murder conviction, stating that Mr. Brown’s trial lawyer had represented him incompetently. The convictions for robbery and carjacking stood, however. After the state pushed to prosecute the murder charge again in 2011, Mr. Brown pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter. He was subsequently sentenced to 42 years in prison.

In 2017, Mr. Brown was caught in possession of heroin in prison. As a result, another two years were added to his sentence.

In 2018, Mayor Breed asked former Gov. Jerry Brown per mail to commute her brother’s prison sentence. The outgoing governor turned down her request, but the letter, written on personal stationery with her mayoral title in block letters at the top, raised questions about a public figure’s involvement in a family member’s criminal case.

Thirteen years before she became mayor, Ms. Breed had tried to provide her brother with an alibi, testifying in the trial that he was at home, sleeping on the couch “late in the evening time.” According to police, the robbery occurred around 12:30 a.m.

A spokesperson for the D.A.’s office said that Mr. Brown was expected to serve 85 percent of the new sentence, or about 26 ½ years, although his lawyer said it was too soon to determine his release date.

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