By Christina D.
On August 24, 2016, in Department 14, witnesses continued to testify about events involving Samantha Green and her baby.
On February 7, 2015, Ms. Green was a patient in the Kaiser hospital in Roseville, under the care of a registered nurse in the postpartum unit. Her baby, Justice Rees, was cared for in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) on a different floor in the same hospital. According to her nurse, Green requested to visit her baby at 3pm on the same day but showed up at the NICU an hour later.
When Green returned from the NICU that day, the nurse questioned Green about why it took her so long to reach the NICU on the first floor, when the trip from her bed on the third floor should take less than five minutes. Green responded that she had gone to get lunch with her mother. The nurse observed that Green seemed intoxicated because her walking was wobbly and her behavior was different from normal. The nurse testified that the NICU nurse also shared the same observations and concerns of Green’s possible intoxication. The nurse reported her concerns to her manager and an involved physician, but did not ask Green about it or run lab tests to confirm her belief that Green was intoxicated.
Because she received instructions from the day-care nurse to keep tabs on Green, and she had suspicions that Green left the hospital grounds, the nurse strongly recommended Green to stay on the grounds for her own safety. The nurse also testified that Green had visited the NICU two more times that day for 10 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively. She considered Green’s condition stable enough to visit the NICU.
A different registered nurse from Kaiser testified that on February 8, 2015, Green visited the NICU with her boyfriend Frank Rees, the baby’s father, when Justice was sleeping and doing well. Green asked the nurse to call whenever he woke up. That day, the nurse called three different times during her eight-hour shift from 3-11pm, but Green was unable to be reached each time. The nurse testified that the calls were to a cell phone, and that she reached voicemail the first time and spoke to a person the second time.
A third witness, who worked in the NICU at Kaiser in Roseville, was on duty from 10:45pm on February 8 to around 6:45am on February 9. She testified to Green visiting the NICU with Rees, and feeding her baby at 11:30pm on February 8, 2015. After feeding, Green passed Justice over to Rees to hold, while the nurse performed a quick vitals assessment on the baby. The nurse noticed that the father was awake when he was handed the baby, but fell asleep in his chair during the few minutes the nurse was performing the assessment.
The baby was ordered to feed “ad lib,” meaning whenever he wanted to feed, so the nurse agreed to call Green via cell phone whenever Justice woke up. The nurse testified that he woke up and she called Green at 3:45am. However, the call went to voicemail so the nurse went ahead and fed the baby herself. After feeding, Justice went back to sleep, but woke again at 6:45am. The nurse called the cell phone and was again directed to voicemail, so she then called the hospital phone in the parents’ room. Rees answered, saying he would ask Green if they were going to visit, but neither parent showed up. The nurse testified that she was a little concerned about feeding Justice throughout the night by herself, especially since she had made a plan with Green. The nurse never received any calls from Green about not visiting the NICU due to exhaustion, like other mothers usually do.
An emergency room doctor from the Woodland Memorial Hospital testified that Green appeared in the hospital on the night of February 24, 2015. She was brought to the ER by the police, and she identified pain in her right leg and in her neck. The doctor went through a review of bodily systems with her but found nothing abnormal about Green, other than slurred speech. During the physical examination, the doctor noted Green’s state as anxious and disheveled. Additionally, since Green showed some altered level of consciousness in that she couldn’t remember when or how her pain started, the doctor ordered a CT scan (x-rays of head and spine) from a radiologist.
A registered nurse also from Woodland Memorial Hospital testified as Green’s admitting nurse for February 24. She performed an emotional assessment on Green to determine the baseline emotional state. Green did not meet the criteria for the assessment, meaning there was no risk of self-harm and there was no need to evaluate the patient. In regard to psychosocial history, the nurse noted signs of physical and sexual abuse because of Green’s bruises and self-report of abuse. The nurse received responses to most questions asked, except for requests for notification of primary care physician and for advanced directives.
Green was initially tearful then turned very fatigued, to the point that she was falling asleep during questioning. Green was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis (muscle degradation due to hypothermia, excessive exercise, and/or drug use), which could have been the cause of her pain. Because of damage to the cervix, Green was also diagnosed with acute cervical strain, meaning it was short-term, active, and recent.
A forensic analyst from Valley Toxicology Services testified to using GC-MS to identify different substances in blood and urine samples taken on February 25, 2015, from Green. Green was tested for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but was instead found to have 0.07 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood. Because drug breakdown depends on a host of factors that differ for each patient, it is not feasible to infer when Green used the drug. The methamphetamine level in her blood was not within the range for a prescription (0.01 – 0.05 mg/L). However, the analyst testified that, considering the half-life (time it takes for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value) of methamphetamine (six to 12 hours), the elimination period could be 2-6 days. However, if the drug was taken in increments as medication, there would be constant elimination and addition.
Frank Rees’ mother and father, “PR” and “WR,” testified that their son lived with them on and off. In 2014, Rees had brought Green to live with them as well, and both parents found out when Green became pregnant one month later. In addition, PR and WR also took care of Mr. Rees’ four children from his past marriage.
The mother remembered seeing Green the morning she went missing, at around 7:30am. Green was feeding three of the children breakfast, while holding and singing to Justice in her arms. Both PR and WR testified that Green knew how to appropriately dress the children, protect them from the cold, and feed them. They also testified to positive relationships with Green, to her helping around the house, and to her motherly role and interactions with the kids. PR said she never had concerns that Green wanted to harm her baby, and would not ever imagine Green leaving Justice in a car on a trip to the convenience store.
Meanwhile, Frank Rees was in bed complaining of some condition, although he usually was also up at that time in the morning. PR remembered that Rees also asked for money, although he has asked her for money so many times she does not have independent memory of each occurrence. PR also testified that, although her son spent a lot of time with Green in the garage, which was turned into some kind of den, he was often not home either. PR would send text messages asking for his whereabouts, and Green would leave voicemails, either threatening to leave him or pleading with him to return home. Twenty clips of these voicemails were presented as evidence by the prosecution.
PR claimed that Green was very attached to Frank Rees, and that the attachment was mutual. PR also testified that her son would say a lot of things he wouldn’t really mean, such as thoughts of leaving Green and complaints that Green caused his depression. PR said Green had the tendency to leave and go for a long walk in the park whenever Frank yelled at her. She also attested to Green’s frustration and overwhelmed feelings from taking care of five kids in the house.
PR and WR testified that they had cameras installed in their home – one in the family room, aimed toward the kitchen, and the other in PR’s bedroom. It would only record pictures when a button was pushed, and recordings in the system can be saved. PR, WR, and Frank Rees all had their own cell phones, but WR testified that Green borrowed his for one evening. PR and WR both said they preferred that Green be the driver when she and Frank borrowed their cars, but Frank would occasionally just take a car out without asking. WR said his son would often pick up the kids from school, but that Green could also be counted on to do it sometimes.
PR and WR were present with Green and Frank Rees at a CPS (child protective services) meeting to discuss making the home safe for Justice. Rees had not held a paid job since 2012, and one of PR’s concerns during the meeting was for her son to get cash aid. Rees also had a history of methamphetamine use since he was 15 years old, and he was supposed to attend a drug rehabilitation program. PR’s role was to keep an eye out for drug use and report to CPS when suspicions arise. She said she never saw any sign of drugs or drug use, but Rees was arrested when the police searched the garage and found methamphetamine.
The trial will resume next Monday, August 29, at 8:55am in Department 14.