Crime - Sacto 911

Plea, reduced bail request expected at hearing in Baby Justice case

Frank Tallieson Rees returned to a Woodland courtroom Thursday, this time to formally face a manslaughter charge in the death of his infant son two years after a frantic 911 call from a Knights Landing backyard led searchers to the body of 19-day-old Justice Rees in a wooded slough.

But Rees’ scheduled Yolo Superior Court arraignment was delayed until Tuesday to give defense attorney Rod Beede time to review charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment – charges Yolo County prosecutors had initially filed two years ago against Rees’ then-fiancée Samantha Lee Green before they pursued the second-degree murder allegation on which she was convicted last September. Green was sentenced in December to 15 years to life in state prison in her baby’s death.

Rees is expected to enter a plea next week and Beede said after the truncated Thursday hearing that he would argue to lower Rees’ bail, now set at $500,000.

“There are a number of documents (prosecutors) are using to enhance his bail. Bail in an involuntary manslaughter case is usually a small percentage of $500,000,” Beede said.

Green was in a meth-induced stupor when she carried her newborn through Ridge Cut Slough before passing out within sight of Knights Landing homes. She awoke hours later, Feb. 24, 2015, to find Justice dead.

Searchers recovered the baby’s body the next day.

Green’s ill-fated trek through the slough began with an argument with Rees at a Woodland gas station over Rees’ plans for a sexual liaison with a female friend in Knights Landing, prosecutors said at Green’s trial.

Rees later left alone for Knights Landing. Green drove back to the Woodland home they shared with Rees’ parents, picked up baby Justice and headed for Knights Landing and Rees. She never found him.

At her murder trial, Green’s attorneys argued that Rees injected her with large doses of methamphetamine mixed with acetone in the days before she set out with Justice for Knights Landing. Green told a television reporter as much in the days after Justice’s death, saying she believed she was “given bad drugs the night this happened.”

The claim laid the foundation for prosecutors’ third charge against Rees on Wednesday: administering of a controlled substance.

But Justice Rees’ grandfather Randy Green, angered at Yolo County prosecutors’ decision to file involuntary manslaughter charges against Rees after filing and prevailing on murder charges against Green’s daughter, said Rees’ bail shouldn’t be reduced.

On Feb. 7, days before his Wednesday arrest, Rees was arrested at his Woodland home with his then-pregnant girlfriend on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine. The baby was born last week.

It was the latest in a series of drug-related incidents involving the Woodland man, including a similar arrest days after Justice’s death in March 2015 on suspicion of possessing drugs and ammunition and a three-year stay at a state rehabilitation center in Southern California for criminally committed narcotics addicts that ended in 2013.

The drug arrest earlier this month, along with evidence from Green’s murder trial, led to the manslaughter charges, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said Wednesday.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith