By Olivia Wynkoop
Bay City News
The brother of San Francisco Mayor London Breed is eligible to shorten his 44-year prison sentence after changes to California’s definition of murder, a judge ruled Monday.
Napoleon Brown has served two decades in prison for robbing a San Francisco diner with a man in 2000. As they fled over the Golden Gate Bridge, the driver of the vehicle, Brown’s girlfriend, fell out of the car and was fatally run over by a drunk driver.
Prosecutors allege that Brown pushed the woman out of the car and committed involuntary manslaughter. He was convicted of murder in 2005 based on a statement the woman said to police before she died.
Brown was granted a new trial in 2009 and he pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in 2011.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy’s ruling came from a 2018 change in the state’s definition of murder, which declares a person can only be charged with murder if they killed someone with intent or reckless indifference.
Brown will be resentenced only on robbery and carjacking convictions, not manslaughter, along with enhancements for possessing a firearm and a previous “strike” conviction.
Brown’s attorney Marc Zilversmit said Brown’s best outcome would be a sentence of credit for time served, which is roughly 23 years. He could also have a reduced sentence time between 23 and 36 years. Prosecutors could still argue for the same sentence of 44 years, he said.
“The resentencing in Mr. Brown’s case is based upon changes to the law of murder and to sentencing laws. His case is one of hundreds of such cases in California in the past four years,” Zilversmit said. “These changes to the laws were made by the Legislature in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to reduce the number of prisoners in California, and the Legislature’s recognition that the past policies of mass incarceration have been costly and failed to make us safer.”
Zilversmit previously requested for the state attorney general’s office to take over the case, as District Attorney Brooke Jenkins was appointed by Breed, though the judge denied the request, he said. According to Zilversmit, the judge said pre-existing firewalls will prevent Jenkins from being involved in the case.
The District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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