His infant son is dead, his former fiancée, the child’s mother, is in prison and on Thursday, Frank Tallieson Rees learned he will face trial in October for his alleged role in his weeks-old son’s tragic and bizarre demise more than two years ago.
Rees, 31, of Woodland was arraigned Thursday in Yolo Superior Court ahead of a scheduled Oct. 16 trial date on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and two counts of administering a controlled substance. He appeared before Yolo Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson.
A trial readiness conference is scheduled for Aug. 17 in Woodland.
The charges, first brought in February, are in connection with the alleged drugging of former fiancée Samantha Green and the death of their son, Justice Rees, whose body was found in a wooded slough near Knights Landing in February 2015. An additional charge of eavesdropping was levied for a cell phone video recording Rees allegedly made of a conversation with Green when Green was in Yolo County Jail awaiting trial.
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Rees knew his and Green’s drug use placed their child in “grave danger,” prosecuting Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens alleged in a statement Thursday, accusing Rees of setting the couple on a course that “ultimately resulted in (Justice’s) death.”
Randy Green, Samantha Green’s father, has been a regular presence at Rees’ proceedings, routinely repeating Rees’s previous calls for “Justice for Justice” during Green’s case and demanding accountability for his grandson’s death.
“Nothing is going to bring back my grandson, but (Rees) talks about ‘Justice for Justice.’ That’s what I want – justice for Justice,” Randy Green said outside the courtroom after the hearing. “My daughter was held accountable. Frank (Rees) should be held accountable, and I think his parents should be held accountable. They facilitated this.”
Rees, Green and newborn Justice were living in the Woodland home of Rees’ parents at the time of Justice’s death.
Green is serving 15 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder in the death of the infant known as Baby Justice. Green was convicted in 2016 for taking her newborn son into chilly Ridge Cut Slough while on a methamphetamine-fueled search for Rees, who attorneys said left Green and baby behind in Woodland for a tryst with a female friend in Knights Landing.
Green emerged sobbing, screaming and alone from the slough the following afternoon, telling a resident that she had been kidnapped and that her baby was missing and likely dead. Pathologists later determined the baby died from exposure.
Defense attorneys at Green’s trial and later, Yolo County prosecutors, alleged Rees injected large quantities of methamphetamine mixed with acetone into Green in the days before her ill-fated journey with Baby Justice into the slough, the drug cocktail leading to the events that killed their baby.
Both Rees and Green were using drugs and Justice was a baby born in crisis, records show. According to child welfare reports, Justice was born with methamphetamine in his system and a fever of 106 degrees. Child welfare workers devised a safety plan with Rees, Green and Rees’ parents that allowed the couple to keep the baby in their care.
Three weeks later, Justice Rees was found dead.