Crime

Expert says drug-induced psychosis led Samantha Green into slough with infant son

Justice Rees
Justice Rees

Samantha Green was high on methamphetamine likely administered by her former fiancé and in a psychotic state as she wandered along a dark, cold Ridge Cut Slough in the hours before searchers found her infant son’s body, a forensic psychologist told jurors Wednesday at the Woodland woman’s murder trial.

“Methamphetamine could make a person act the way she did,” UC Davis psychologist Matthew Soulier testified in Yolo Superior Court. Soulier interviewed Green nearly a month after Justice Rees’ body was found Feb. 25, 2015. “I can’t explain how else she gets into that slough other than psychosis.”

Prosecutors say Green, 25, of Woodland, drove to Knights Landing with the 20-day-old baby to find Frank Rees, Justice’s father and Green’s former fiancé, after the couple argued in Woodland over a proposed meet-up with a female friend. Green parked her car in a Knights Landing cul-de-sac before wandering into Ridge Cut Slough with the baby.

Defense attorneys allege Rees injected her with veterinary-size syringes of methamphetamine in the days before she headed to Knights Landing, and that contributed to what Soulier said was a psychotic state marked by apocalyptic thoughts and hallucinations.

Is she Mother of the Year? No, but the only natural answer is that it’s unnatural and we have a driver for this: Frank talking crazy and the drugs.

UC Davis psychologist Matthew Soulier, on Samantha Green and her former fiancé, Frank Rees

Green surfaced alone the afternoon of Feb. 24, 2015, on a levee road near the slough. She was distraught and screaming that she had been kidnapped and that her baby was missing. Yolo County prosecutors charged Green in March 2015 with second-degree murder, saying her actions caused her baby’s death.

On Tuesday, Green looked on from her attorney’s table in the same Yolo County courtroom as Rees tearfully recounted learning what had happened to their infant son that February night.

I just remember dropping and falling like my whole world would come crashing down on me.

Frank Rees, regarding his reaction to the news that his son, Justice Rees, had died.

“I said, ‘Babe, what happened? What about the baby?’ and she hysterically said, ‘He’s dead,’ ” Rees said.

“I just remember dropping and falling like my whole world would come crashing down on me,” Rees said under questioning from Green’s attorney, Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson. Rees said Green severed their relationship in a jailhouse letter he received in 2015.

Olson replayed Green’s own words to investigators in a recording of a 2015 jailhouse interview with a detective in which a sobbing Green bitterly said Rees dosed her with a mixture of methamphetamine and acetone before she set out for Knights Landing.

A pathologist in August testified that trace amounts of acetone were found in Green’s system.

“All he says is that it makes it better,” Green is heard telling a detective on the recording of the meth-and-acetone cocktail. “I loved him and I took some stupid advice.”

On Wednesday, under a lengthy cross-examination by prosecutors, Soulier sketched out a dark portrait of Rees’ control over his relationship with Green, their drug use and Green’s drug-addled hours in the slough.

“To pin this solely on her seems unfair,” Soulier told Rayan Couzens, Yolo County deputy district attorney. “There were other people around but Frank controlled her.”

Rees was not charged in Justice’s death.

Green, Soulier said, “loved this child. Is she mother of the year? No, but the only natural answer is that it’s unnatural and we have a driver for this: Frank talking crazy and the drugs.”

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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