Crime - Sacto 911

Hearing set for dad accused in death of infant Justice Rees

A Yolo judge declined to reduce bail for Frank Tallieson Rees in the 2015 death of his infant son Justice Rees in a Knights Landing slough.

Rees, 31, will return to Yolo Superior Court for a March 15 status conference before an April 12 preliminary hearing on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and administering of a controlled substance, Judge Paul Richardson ordered Tuesday. Rees pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rees remains held in Yolo County custody in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The break buys both prosecutor and defense time to exchange evidence in the case – a process that comes with the added dimension of evidence and testimony at the murder trial of Justice’s mother, Samantha Green, last summer. A Yolo County jury convicted Green of second-degree murder in September in Justice’s death, and she is now serving a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.

Green stood trial after carrying her newborn son into Ridge Cut Slough near Knights Landing in February 2015 in a methamphetamine-addled search for then-fiancé Rees, who had left for Knights Landing for a planned sexual liaison with a female friend. Green passed out and Justice died of exposure in the wooded slough where his body was found by searchers Feb. 25, 2015 – a day after a sobbing and disoriented Green climbed out of the slough and flagged down help.

At trial, her attorney alleged that Rees had injected large doses of methamphetamine mixed with acetone into Green in the days before her trek to Knights Landing, which triggered in Green a drug-induced psychosis and led to Justice’s death.

Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens, one of the pair of attorneys prosecuting Rees, said prosecutors sought to fulfill their obligations to exchange evidence while protecting Green’s rights.

Couzens did not elaborate. Green’s medical history, including such issues as her drug use, were discussed at her trial.

“We discussed that (with Judge Richardson). We want to be able to discover everything, and we made sure we were on good ground with that,” Couzens said.

Reached after the morning hearing, Rees’ attorney, Rod Beede, declined to comment other than to say that the evidence issue with Green was a matter between the county’s District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices.

Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson, who represented Green at trial, said Tuesday she had yet to be contacted by either prosecutors or Beede, but was clear about Rees’ alleged role in baby Justice Rees’ demise, saying that “Justice wouldn’t have died but for Rees’ role. If Rees had been out of the picture, there’s no doubt that Justice would still be here alive.”

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith