Crime - Sacto 911

Woodland mom faces April murder trial in newborn’s death

Samantha Green appears in Yolo Superior Court during a preliminary hearing in the death of her infant son on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Woodland, Calif. Yolo County prosecutors in March charged the Woodland woman on suspicion of murder, accusing her of killing son Justice Rees. Justice’s body was found in remote Rough Cut Slough near Knights Landing on Feb. 25, 20 days after his birth.
Samantha Green appears in Yolo Superior Court during a preliminary hearing in the death of her infant son on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Woodland, Calif. Yolo County prosecutors in March charged the Woodland woman on suspicion of murder, accusing her of killing son Justice Rees. Justice’s body was found in remote Rough Cut Slough near Knights Landing on Feb. 25, 20 days after his birth. rpench@sacbee.com

Samantha Lee Green will stand trial in April on suspicion of murder in the February death of her newborn son at a remote Knights Landing-area slough.

Green, 25, of Woodland was arraigned Friday in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland before Judge David Rosenberg. The planned three-week trial in the death of 19-day-old Justice Rees is scheduled to begin April 25.

Prosecuting Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens told Rosenberg he anticipated defense motions seeking to move the trial out of Yolo County and to disqualify Yolo County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case. Rosenberg plans to hear the motions Jan. 12.

Green was bound over for trial Nov. 6 after a nearly weeklong preliminary hearing that recounted Justice’s final days grimly capped by photographs of the baby’s body still clad in his onesie among the brush of Rough Cut Slough.

Defense attorneys at the hearing argued that Green had no intention of killing her son, calling for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. But prosecutors said by placing Justice Rees in harm’s way, Green’s actions were enough to pursue a murder charge.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, Green picked up Justice on Feb. 24 at the Woodland home she shared with her fiancé and Justice’s father, Frank Rees, and Rees’ parents. The couple argued at a Woodland gas station about his desire to go to Knights Landing for a sexual encounter involving the two and an acquaintance of Rees.

Green did not want to meet the woman and Rees left alone for Knights Landing. Later, Green drove with her baby to Knights Landing to search for Rees. A Knights Landing resident found a drug-addled and disoriented Green the next day, Feb. 25, by a levee road near Rough Cut Slough screaming for help and claiming she had been kidnapped. Justice’s body was found by searchers later that day.

Investigators testified that Green soon told them she wandered onto the levee road and into the slough, where she passed out next to her child.

The child was not moving when she awoke, investigators said Green told them.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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