Crime - Sacto 911

Woodland mom now faces murder charge in baby’s death

Tracie Olson, Yolo County public defender, stands with Samantha Green, the mother of 3-week-old Justice Rees, as she is arraigned last week in the child’s death . Green pleaded not guilty to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and abusing or endangering the health of a child.
Tracie Olson, Yolo County public defender, stands with Samantha Green, the mother of 3-week-old Justice Rees, as she is arraigned last week in the child’s death . Green pleaded not guilty to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and abusing or endangering the health of a child. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Yolo County prosecutors are now planning to charge Samantha Lee Green with murder in the death of her baby in February.

Green, 23, was arrested by Yolo County Sheriff’s deputies last month on suspicion of killing Justice Rees, found dead in a remote slough near Knights Landing late last month 20 days after his birth. While authorities initially said Green would face a murder charge, prosecutors last week reduced the charges to involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment at her Yolo Superior Court arraignment.

Green, a Woodland resident, pleaded not guilty to those lesser allegations. But prosecutors in an amended complaint filed Tuesday in Yolo Superior Court said evidence supports a new charge of murder.

After Green and her son went missing in late February, 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 suggested he drowned or died from hypothermia.

Justice Rees was born with methamphetamine in his system, Justice’s grandmother, Patricia Rees, said in a statement in the days after the infant’s death. Child welfare officials opened a file on Samantha Green and Justice, Patricia Rees said in the statement, adding that Frank Rees, the infant’s father, and Green tested clean for the drug after a meeting with Child Protective Services workers.

A hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday in Yolo Superior Court to hear prosecutors’ motion to replace the manslaughter charge with murder.

Yolo County district attorney’s officials said Wednesday they are under a gag order and cannot discuss the new charge.

Meantime, Frank Talliesen Rees, is free after posting bail late Friday following his March 6 arrest on suspicion of possessing drugs, paraphernalia and ammunition as a former felon, as well as violating probation. Rees had been held in lieu of $45,000 bail on the allegations.

The arrest came just days after his March 4 court date in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland where he was arraigned on traffic-related violations unrelated to his infant son’s death.

Yolo County sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant at the Woodland home Rees and his children share with Rees’ parents. Deputies found methamphetamine, a smoking pipe and ammo, sheriff’s officials said.

Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, following the March 6 arrest, did not disclose a reason for the warrant search, but said deputies’ investigation of Rees was not connected to Justice Rees’ death.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments