Samantha Green was crying, dirty and shivering in the back of an ambulance as she tried to piece together her 19-day-old son’s final moments for a Woodland police officer and what had happened to her newborn.
“He was propped up on a tree next to me. He was wearing a onesie. He was so cold,” Green told Woodland police Detective Tamara Pelle between sobs and hyperventilated breaths on an audio recording played Monday in Yolo Superior Court. “I held him against my side. He was … dead.”
The interview closed the first day of testimony in the preliminary hearing for Samantha Lee Green, suspected of murder in the death of her son, Justice Rees, whose body was found in a remote slough Feb. 25 near Knights Landing. Testimony continues Tuesday in Woodland before Judge David Rosenberg.
Yolo County sheriff’s deputies and, later, Pelle traced the minutes and hours after the report of a frantic and disheveled Green screaming for help on a levee road outside a Knights Landing home, claiming to have been kidnapped.
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Investigators on Monday testified that a different story later emerged, saying Green and fiancé Frank Rees – now facing unrelated drug charges in Yolo County – told them in separate interviews that both had planned to meet a female friend in Knights Landing on Feb. 24, the day before Justice was found.
An argument between Rees and Green at a Woodland gas station derailed those plans, and Rees went alone. Later that day, Green, after stopping back at their Woodland home, packed up baby formula and Justice and headed to Knights Landing to try to find Rees. She never did, and ultimately wandered onto a levee road near Knights Landing with Justice tucked into her pea coat.
Yolo County sheriff’s Deputy Jose Pineda was one of the first to respond to Green’s frantic call. He said that he was told by a Knights Landing man who first spotted Green that the mother and child were in the slough area the night of Feb. 24 and that she left the baby behind to seek help.
“She was crying, she kept crying and shivering,” Pineda said.
Pelle said Green told her she passed out next to her child and that he was not moving when she awoke. Green finally swam across the slough for help, but by then it was too late.