By Sarah Abfalter
The case of Samantha Green continued this Friday in Yolo County with an arraignment on the information in front of Judge David Rosenberg, just two weeks after it was determined Green will now face second-degree murder charges in the death of her 19-day-old son, Justice Rees. A trial has now been set for April 25, 2016, and is estimated to last approximately three weeks, where Public Defender Tracie Olson and Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller will face an uphill battle arguing in Ms. Green’s defense.
During the arraignment, there was discussion of several important motions that may be filed by the defense, including possible motions for change of venue and disqualification of prosecutors.
The details of the case against Ms. Green came out in a recent preliminary hearing where Deputy DA Ryan Couzens argued that, under a theory of implied malice, Ms. Green is responsible for the death of Baby Justice because she did not act as a reasonable parent would in order to protect her son, and her actions directly resulted in his death.
According to the prosecutor’s theory, Green, who was high on methamphetamine, became upset with her then-fiancé, Frank Rees, after he sought to have a threesome with her and another unidentified woman. Green took off into the elements, exposing Baby Justice to freezing cold temperatures when he was only wearing a wet onesie with his arms and legs exposed.
Couzens argued that Ms. Green persisted in staying outdoors, despite the baby’s cries and the freezing cold temperature. Green could have chosen to seek help, he argued, but chose not to, ultimately deciding to leave the baby behind in a thicket near a slough near Knights Landing and showing what Couzens called “a callous indifference” to human life.
According to forensic pathologist Kelly Arthur-Kenny, exposure to the elements and dehydration, combined with two previously undiagnosed congenital heart defects, led to the death of Baby Justice.
The public defenders have argued that Green put in her best efforts to protect Baby Justice from the elements and that the congenital heart defects made Baby Justice especially susceptible to the harsh weather but, according to Judge Rosenberg, there was little question that Ms. Green violated the basic duties of a parent.
Counsel for both sides will have until February 5, 2016, to file motions in this case and a trial readiness conference will be held on April 20 to see if all parties are ready to move forward.