Crime - Sacto 911

Yolo judge denies Woodland mom’s claim of vindictive prosecution

Samantha Green leaves Yolo Superior Court after a new murder charge was presented in her infant son Justice Rees's death in February. Photo taken Friday, March 13, 2015, in Woodland, Calif.
Samantha Green leaves Yolo Superior Court after a new murder charge was presented in her infant son Justice Rees's death in February. Photo taken Friday, March 13, 2015, in Woodland, Calif. rpench@sacbee.com

A Yolo Superior Court judge on Monday rejected defense claims that Samantha Green was the target of vindictive prosecution in the February death of her newborn son.

In February, Justice Rees was found dead in a Knights Landing-area slough 20 days after his birth. Green appeared for the Monday hearing in her green-and-white jail uniform and sat alone in the courtroom’s jury box.

Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller argued that Yolo prosecutors’ decision in March to change their original manslaughter charge to murder at the last minute amounted to vindictive prosecution against the Woodland woman. Muller also alleged that prosecutors withheld evidence needed to justify a murder charge and information related to search warrants served against Green as investigators probed her child’s death.

“What we’re asking for is evidence (prosecutors) received to increase charges,” Muller said. “We’re only asking for what we’re entitled to.”

Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg said prosecutors must provide names, addresses, evidence they seized or obtained, and witnesses’ statements and ordered Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens to do so.

But, Rosenberg said, “beyond that, the court will not go. The defense is asking the court to slide down a very slippery slope. The court will not accept that invitation.” He added that he will not “delve into prosecutors’ strategic decisions, thought processes or deliberations.”

Couzens told the court that defense attorneys and Green herself knew that prosecutors were working on increasing the charge from manslaughter to murder.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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