SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor London Breed’s brother, Napoleon Brown, who has been imprisoned for manslaughter, may be released sooner due to a change in state law. He has been in prison for the past two decades. 

Judge Brendan Conroy granted a petition to possibly reduce Brown’s 44-year manslaughter sentence on Monday, March 6, stating he found no evidence that Napoleon Brown threw his girlfriend Lenties White from the car in June of 2000. 

According to the case, in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, Brown pushed the getaway car’s driver, who was identified as his girlfriend Lenties White, onto the pavement. A vehicle that was headed in their direction hit her. She was sent to a nearby hospital after she was struck and later died. Brown was convicted of murder which was later reduced to manslaughter. He was also convicted in the robbery of a Johnny Rockets in the Marina District that was said to have transpired earlier in the day along with the carjacking. 

The judge agreed with the defense that the person responsible for White’s death was the drunk driver who veered into the safety lane and struck her. The prosecutor Ana Gonzalez argued that Brown should be held responsible because he is the one who shoved White in front of a moving vehicle. 

When authorities arrived on the scene at the night of the incident, she was able to tell police, “S.B. threw me out of the car.” Later, Brown admitted “S.B.” is his nickname which is an abbreviation for “Sonny Boy.”

Under the new law, to be charged with felony murder, one has to act with intent to kill. When the original law was in place, anyone who was involved in a felony murder could be charged regardless if they had the intent to kill or not. The prosecution confirmed in court they believed Brown was the actual killer. 

After a retrial over his 2005 conviction of murder, carjacking and robbery, Brown pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter. In 2021, Brown’s lawyers asked the court to reconsider in light of a recent law that narrowed California’s definition of felony murder and opened the door for resentencing petitions.

Marc Zilversmit, who represents Brown, told the courts his client was a much different person 23 years ago, wrapped up in drugs, “reckless and thoughtless.” Zilversmit added, “He’s actually grateful for the time in prison because it’s given him time to reassess the wrongs that he’s committed and the harm that he’s caused to too many people.”

Brown will now be resentenced on his robbery and carjacking convictions instead of manslaughter. Brown’s next court date is April 3, 2023.