Crime - Sacto 911

Grandmother: Baby found dead at Yolo County slough had meth in system when born

Justice Rees, who was 20 days old, died of drowning or hypothermia.
Justice Rees, who was 20 days old, died of drowning or hypothermia.

The paternal grandmother of Justice Rees, a 20-day-old baby found dead last week in a slough near Knights Landing, said Tuesday that the child tested positive for methamphetamine when he was born.

That news came as Justice’s mother, Samantha Green, 23, awaited her arraignment Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court on a charge of killing her child.

Patricia Rees, Justice’s grandmother, confirmed her statement to The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday after it was first reported by Channel 10.

“It is true that baby Justice was born with meth in his system,” Rees wrote. “Samantha and Justice immediately became a (Child Protective Services) case. CPS met with Frank (Rees) and Samantha and my husband and I. We put together a safety plan ... since they live with us.

“Following that meeting both parents tested clean. Sammi and Frank were adjusting to being parents of a newborn. This was Samantha’s first baby.”

Yolo County spokeswoman Beth Gabor said Monday that the county’s social services and employment office had files on Green and her infant son, but she could not specify why. She said the county plans to release the records later this week or early next week after determining what must be withheld legally.

Green was arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of killing her son. That concluded a week in which Green and her son went missing, she made a frantic 911 call from a Knights Landing backyard without Justice and a search effort later turned up her dead child.

Preliminary autopsy results suggest that Justice may have drowned or died from hypothermia.

Green told Channel 10 on Monday that she believed she and Justice were being chased and that her “main goal was to keep him safe.” She added that she believes “I was drugged or given bad drugs the night this happened.”

Patricia Rees said in her statement that Green and her son Frank had lived at the elder Rees’ home for about 10 months. The grandmother said Green was “very involved” with Frank Rees’ four other children and that “they love her.”

“During Samantha’s pregnancy she had some hormonal mood swings as we all do but I never suspected that she was using meth,” Patricia Rees continued. “I was shocked that Justice had meth in his system.”

She said she would continue to support Green and her son.

“They loved Justice and I know in my heart that she would never intentionally harm him,” Patricia Rees concluded. “She was a good mom to all five children.”

Frank Rees, Justice’s father, remained in Yolo County custody on Tuesday awaiting a scheduled Wednesday hearing on warrants unrelated to the baby’s death. The warrants were for offenses that included driving while on a license revoked for driving under the influence and failure to appear in Yolo County, as well as for driving under the influence and child endangerment in Lake County.

Yolo Superior Court records detail some of Frank Rees’ past struggles with addiction. They show he was committed to the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco for drug addiction following his sentencing in October 2010 in Yolo County on theft charges.

The Yolo court found him to be a “narcotics addict, or by reason of repeated use of narcotics, in imminent danger of becoming addicted to narcotics,” according to the 2010 commitment order. The document did not specify what narcotics he had used.

Rees completed the center’s Civil Addict Program, designed for the treatment and control of criminally committed narcotic addicts and was discharged from the center in July 2013, according to court documents.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. The Bee’s Marissa Lang contributed to this report.

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