Crime - Sacto 911

Baby Justice is ‘dead because of you,’ judge tells his mom

Samantha Green, right, was sentenced Friday in Yolo Superior Court to 15 years in prison for the death of her infant son Justice Rees.
Samantha Green, right, was sentenced Friday in Yolo Superior Court to 15 years in prison for the death of her infant son Justice Rees. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Samantha Green was sentenced Friday to 15-years-to life in prison after a judge rejected her plea for a new trial.

“Ms. Green, back in Feb of 2015 you violated the most basic responsibility of a parent,” said Yolo Superior Court judge David Rosenberg. “You put your child in harms way. And because of your actions your child is dead.”

A jury in September found Green, 25, criminally responsible the 19-day-old’s death following her methamphetamine-fueled trip through 55-degree delta waters of Ridge Cut Slough near Knights Landing. Green and her son were reported missing Feb. 22 by her mother and sister. The following afternoon, Green was located by authorities after she placed a panicked 911 call. She claimed she had been kidnapped and her baby was likely dead of exposure. Seventeen hours later, on Feb. 25 Justice Rees was found dead.

Rosenberg predicted her term in prison would “pale in comparison to the confines of your own mind” as she replays the events that lead to her son’s death.

Ms. Green, back in February of 2015 you violated the most basic responsibility of a parent. You put your child in harms way. And because of your actions your child is dead.

Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg

Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson said she would appeal the verdict.

“This is the most unfounded jury verdict that I’ve seen,” Olson told the court prior to Rosenburg’s ruling. “Involuntary manslaughter in the correct decision.”

At trial, Olson implicated the baby’s father, Frank Rees, in the incident. Rees, who testified at the trial, was not charged in connection with Justice’s death.

Olson alleged that Rees humiliated Green with open sexual liaisons and repeated requests that she join him for three- and four-way sex. He also dosed Green with veterinary-size syringes of methamphetamine mixed with acetone in the days before their son’s death, said Olson, who argued that Rees wielded intense control over Green first as her drug connection, then as the father of her child.

Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Rob Gorman said Friday that Green knew the effects of methamphetamine and continued her destructive path.

Rosenberg agreed with the prosecution, ruling Friday that “the verdict of the jury is supported by the evidence.”

As the court turned its attention toward sentencing, Green’s parents called her a good kid who took a wrong path in life and asked for leniency.

This was not murder. She can still be a productive member of society. I’m proof drug rehab works.

Randy Green, father of Samantha Green

“There is not one part of me that thinks she went into that slough to hurt her baby,” said Lori Green. “She did not think her actions would bring him harm, let alone death.”

A sobbing Randy Green said he failed his daughter, who was born with methamphetamine in her system. He said he eventually cleaned up his life.

“This was not murder,” he said. “She can still be a productive member of society. I’m proof drug rehab works.”

Rosenberg stuck to the state guidelines prescribing a sentence of 15-years-to-life in state prison. With time already served, Green will be eligible for parole in about 14 years.

“The jury has spoken. It really is a tragic case all around,” Rosenberg said.

Yolo County Deputy District attorney Ron Gorman reflects on the sentencing of Samantha Green. There are "no winners here," Gorman said. Green was sentenced to 15-to-life in the death of her son Justice Rees.

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