The mother of a newborn boy found dead last week in a remote Yolo County slough pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and abusing or endangering the health of a child.
Samantha Lee Green, 23, was arraigned Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland on the charges, which included an enhancement for infliction of great bodily injury on a child during the commission of a felony.
Green remains in Yolo County custody, her bail set at $250,000. She had been held without bail since her arrest early Saturday, but Judge Arvid Johnson modified her bail at the afternoon hearing.
Green’s next court hearing is scheduled for March 30 before Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg. If convicted on all allegations, Green faces six years in prison, Yolo County District Attorney’s officials said.
Clad in a green and white inmate’s uniform, Green spoke little as she stood beside Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson during the brief arraignment.
Her parents, Randy and Laurie Green, attended the arraignment inside the crowded courtroom but did not comment afterward. Meanwhile, a gaggle of television trucks and cameras was posted outside the courthouse, a sign of the attention the case has generated.
Green’s fiancé and Justice’s father, Frank Rees, also faced arraignment Wednesday on traffic charges unrelated to the boy’s death. He pleaded no contest to driving on a suspended license, and received a 10-day jail sentence and one year of misdemeanor probation.
After Green and Justice had gone missing early last week, she made a frantic 911 call Feb. 24 from the backyard of a Knights Landing home and was found without her baby. Searchers located Justice’s body the next morning in Rough Cut Slough, and preliminary autopsy results suggest he drowned or died from hypothermia.
Justice was found dead 20 days after he was born, and Green is accused of having committed felonies on his 19th day. But Yolo County medical examiners have not yet determined when Justice Rees died, coroner’s officials said Wednesday. Justice would have been a month old Thursday.
Justice’s paternal grandmother, Patricia Rees, said in a statement Tuesday that the baby tested positive for methamphetamine when born and that his parents were able to take the boy home after establishing a safety plan and testing clean of drugs. She said she would continue to support Green, and that “I know in my heart that she would never intentionally harm him.”
Patricia Rees on Wednesday declined comment after leaving the courtroom before being rushed past reporters to a waiting van.
Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto also attended Green’s arraignment. Outside the courtroom before the brief hearing, Prieto said his detectives continue to investigate Justice’s death.
“It’s tragic, it’s horribly tragic. We’re all determined to establish how this child died. We’re going to leave no stone unturned,” Prieto said. “We only have one witness at this point. That’s the mother.”
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.