by Jade Wolansky
Friday, August 19, marked the fifth day of testimony for the Samantha Green trial in Department 14. Judge David Rosenberg presided over the case. Ms. Green is charged with second-degree murder with implied malice of her 19-day-old newborn, Justice Rees.
The first witness to take the stand was “KF.” He was in custody and wore prison clothing when he entered the courtroom. Judge Rosenberg instructed the jurors not to let KF’s in-custody status influence their evaluation of his testimony.
When asked to give sworn testimony, KF refused. He said he did not agree with the witness oath to tell the truth.
Deputy DA Robert Gorman questioned him about February 23, 2015. KF stated that he would not concur with “SR’s” answers. SR is KF’s girlfriend. She had testified earlier in the Samantha Green trial.
KF stated that he did not remember speaking to Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Glaser and another officer. KF also testified that he did not know Ms. Green.
During cross-examination, Public Defender Tracie Olson asked KF if he knew Mr. Rees. He replied that he did not.
When Ms. Olson asked if he had gone to Walter’s House (a residential addiction treatment facility in Woodland), he stated that he did not have to answer. Judge Rosenberg informed KF that he was bound to answer the question.
At this point, Judge Rosenberg stated he would dismiss the witness unless counsel had further questions. The witness was proving to be uncooperative and counterproductive to advancing the trial.
The next witness was Detective Matthew Jameson from the Woodland Police Department.
Mr. Gorman asked him about February 23, 2015. Detective Jameson stated that the Woodland Police Department had dispatched him to look into a stolen vehicle report. He arrived at the residence, which was associated with Frank Rees, the father of Justice Rees, and learned that a 2011 Chevy Traverse was missing. Det. Jameson was informed at the residence that Ms. Green was the last to drive the vehicle.
Det. Jameson also spoke with Frank Rees. Mr. Rees informed Jameson that he and Ms. Green initially had plans to go to Knights Landing, however, Ms. Green did not want to go. The last time he had seen her was the day before and he said that she had taken the Chevy Traverse.
Jameson also testified that he had filed another missing person report for Justice Rees. He stated he arranged for a Yolo County detective to interview Mr. Rees. He felt Mr. Rees was suspicious.
Next, Ms. Olson asked Detective Jameson why he had filed another missing person report, since only one is needed. The witness replied that it was an error.
The next witness to testify was “DF,” who was also in custody. The prosecutor asked DF if he remembered calling the Woodland Police Department on February 24 about a stolen vehicle in a Knights Landing cul-de-sac. DF replied that he did not.
Mr. Gorman expressed his frustration with the stubbornness of the in-custody witnesses and halted questioning. Judge Rosenberg instructed Mr. Gorman to proceed with the trial.
The prosecutor then approached the witness and showed him a photo. Mr. Gorman asked DF if it refreshed his memory. DF stated that it did not. The witness was dismissed.
Crime Scene Investigator Lauren Hartfield of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department was the next to testify.
Mr. Gorman had a map diagram of the Knights Landing levee displayed on a projector screen in the courtroom. He asked CSI Hartfield about the diagram. She stated that she had assisted in taking aerial photos for the map.
Mr. Gorman asked about her involvement in the investigation. CSI Hartfield stated she had walked the entire distance of the Ridge Cut Slough in Knights Landing. She testified that she had started from where the 2011 Chevy Traverse was found and the white gate where “RV” and Ms. Green first made contact. RV was the first individual Ms. Green encountered after leaving her baby. Hartfield arrived at the crime scene on February 25, 2015, with a partner from the sheriff’s department.
The prosecutor asked CSI Hartfield if she could see Justice Rees’ body from where the white gate was. Hartfield replied that she could see the general area, but not the body. She also stated it had would have been impossible to walk from where Justice Rees’ body was found to the white gate. She stated that the area was full of foliage and it would have been necessary to cross through water.
The witness had also documented whether houses and vehicles could be seen from various locations around the levee.
CSI Hartfield was subsequently asked about evidence. She listed a peacoat, a purse, and a diaper bag. The peacoat had been damp and covered in debris. Inside the diaper bag, common baby care items were found.
Mr. Gorman presented several People’s exhibits. They were photographs Hartfield had taken during her investigation. During the direct examination, Hartfield described the images. She explained she took 360-degree photographs of the crime scene. In one of the photos was an image of a wooded area with a life jacket. The life jacket was used to identify where Justice Rees’ body was. The image of Justice Rees’ body without the life jacket was not shown to the court.
The witness also stated she had returned to the crime scene on the night of April 7, 2015, to investigate further. CSI Hartfield stated that the moonlight on April 7 was predicted to be similar to the moonlight on February 23, 2015. However, Hartfield revealed that the conditions were not the same.
During cross-examination, Ms. Olson asked her about 17 photographs. CSI Hartfield confirmed that the images were the 360-degree images she had photographed.
The trial is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, August 22, in Department 14 at 9am.