By Sophie Marconi and Sarah Gregory
On August 31 in Department 14, Judge David Rosenberg presided over the case against Samantha Green, accused of murder in the death of her infant, Justice Rees. At this time, the court resumed the footage of Detective Dean Nyland, from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, questioning Samantha Green regarding the events leading up to the death of baby Justice.
The given footage showed Samantha Green providing a general timeline of the events that took place on February 23, 2015. During direct examination, Deputy DA Ryan Couzens asked Det. Nyland about some discrepancies regarding the dampness of Samantha Green’s coat that was found at the crime scene. The reason this detail is significant is because Ms. Green claimed to have swum across the river, with baby Justice in her arms, to get away from a man called “Cary” after he allegedly assaulted her.
The next People’s witness called to the stand was Boyd Lasater, Senior Criminalist in the Bureau of Forensic Services, Sacramento Regional Laboratory, for the DOJ. Mr. Lasater examined nine fluid samples from Samantha Green and was unable to detect any substances other than minute amounts of alcohol, though Ms. Green claims that she was drugged by Cary.
The next witness brought by the People was “AG,” Green’s sister. During direct examination, AG discussed her filing of a missing person’s report for Ms. Green, and her search on foot for her sister on the 24th of February, 2015. AG stated that the reason she filed a missing person’s report in the first place is because Frank Rees, Green’s boyfriend at the time, called AG and said that he had not spoken to Green all day and she never came home the night before.
AG then provided details regarding her interaction with Green several days before, when Green came over to her home due to a fight she had with Rees. Ms. Green spent the night at AG’s after they played with baby Justice for awhile, but before Green went to sleep, AG noticed that her sister was behaving in an unusual fashion.
AG stated that Ms. Green appeared to be on methamphetamine – she was twitching, looking around rapidly, and displaying other unusual forms of behavior. AG noted that she suspected Green had been on methamphetamine throughout her pregnancy, but AG had not confirmed this theory.
Mr. Couzens questioned AG as to the condition of Justice Rees on that date, to which AG responded that the baby appeared fine. She did, however, mention that, while Green had brought spare clothing and blankets for Justice, the clothing that Green brought was not clean and did not appear to be an ample amount of clothing. AG also mentioned that Justice was not bundled up in enough blankets to keep him protected from the cold weather.
AG later stated that, throughout the entirety of the interaction, Samantha Green spent hours texting and calling Frank Rees, which made AG worry that her sister was not able to dedicate an ample amount of time to take care of baby Justice, that she was focusing too much on issues with Frank. AG also suspected that Ms. Green was suffering from postpartum depression, and she told Green that she would be happy to support her in getting help.
At this point, the court took a 15-minute break and returned at 10:45 am. Public Defender Tracie Olson began her cross-examination of AG. Ms. Olson asked AG about her and her sister’s childhood. AG explained that their parents were both addicted to methamphetamine. Because of their addictions, the parents had to give up the girls to their grandparents. Mr. Couzens had argued that, due to the fact that Green’s parents were drug addicts, she should have been aware of the horrible effects that drugs can have on a family.
At this point, AG began to describe in detail Samantha Green’s relationship history. AG said that when Samantha was 14 she engaged in what would be a six-year-long relationship with a man who was very violent toward her. This description led to questions about Green’s relationship with Frank Rees, where AG discussed Rees’ alleged cheating. AG stated that Rees had admitted to cheating on Green with his ex wife, who was still, to some extent, in the picture.
During Mr. Couzen’s redirect, he asked AG to recall a statement she made regarding Ms. Green and her capability as a mother. He reminded AG that she had told an officer that she would not feel comfortable leaving her children with Green as she considers her to be irresponsible, mostly because of her drug problems.
The last witness brought to the stand by the People was Detective Brian Young, who has been with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years. Mr. Young had spoken with and observed Samantha Green on the 25th of February, 2015, regarding the incident. At this time in the proceedings, Mr. Couzens played the audio recording where Ms. Green described the incident.
While most of the audio recording was incredibly difficult to make out due to Samantha Green’s depressed condition and her sobbing, the courtroom was able to discern Samantha explain that she ended up alone in the woods with Cary, Frank Rees’ drug dealer. Ms. Green expressed in the interview that she believed she was drugged and then assaulted by Cary, all the while with baby Justice.
Green said in the interview that Cary touched her breasts and vagina, indifferent to Green’s protest. She also stated that during this incident she felt dizzy, confused and frightened. She stated that, at one point, she tried to crawl away from Cary but was unable to escape.
Green then stated that at some point Cary left and she fell asleep. Green said that when she woke up, baby Justice was lying next to her, dead. She said that, while she tried to keep him warm, he was unable to survive the cold of the night.
The recording ended right before noon, when Judge Rosenberg ended the session and scheduled the trial to reconvene at 1:30 pm that afternoon.
By Sarah Gregory
The prosecution’s direct examination of Detective Brian Young continued in the afternoon session. The prosecutor asked Young about a search which several detectives, including Young and CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) personnel, performed at Green’s home in Woodland.
Young stated that the search party found glass smoking pipes, used for methamphetamine, in the garage. Deputy DA Ryan Couzens showed the court a photo of a pipe found in the search that was made out of a light bulb. He also gave the jury a police training replica of a smoking pipe.
Mr. Couzens asked Det. Young where some of the glass smoking pipes were found. Young replied that there were three he could remember. One was found in a tool box, another on the ground, and the light bulb was in a woman’s purse.
At the Woodland Memorial Hospital, Det. Young spoke with Ms. Green, as did a few other detectives. This was around 1:00 am on February 25, 2015.
Public Defender Tracie Olson then asked Det. Young, on cross-exam, if he knew who had last used the light bulb smoking pipe and when. Young stated that a CSI collected the pipe and he was unable to determine who had last used it or when that occurred.
Mr. Couzens proceeded with a redirect examination. Young stated that, while at the hospital, he had retrieved an advocate for Ms. Green because, at that point in the investigation, it appeared to be a sexual assault and rescue case. Young also affirmed that Frank Rees, Ms. Green’s fiancé, had met with her for only a short while on the 3rd floor and then he drove her home.
At this point, Judge Rosenberg asked Mr. Couzens if he needed to call any other witnesses that day. Mr. Couzens replied in the negative, but asked that Frank Rees, since he was present, be ordered back to testify on September 6 at 9:00 am in Department 14. Judge Rosenberg granted this request.
Next, Mr. Couzens presented People’s exhibit #80, which is a 2 ½ hour video of Ms. Green giving a statement to Detective Mike Glaser on February 27, 2015 at approximately 9:12 pm.
Ms. Green’s Statement
Detective Glaser began the interview by reading Ms. Green her Miranda rights. At this point, Ms. Green had already been interviewed by other detectives for a few hours. This had caused her a lot of anxiety and she began to cry.
After Ms. Green calmed down a bit, Glaser asked her to state her son’s name, age, and birthdate. Justice Rees was born on February 5, 2015, and only lived for 19 days.
Glaser then went into the history of Ms. Green’s drug addiction. She stated that she started smoking marijuana at the age of 12 after seeing her parents use a variety of mostly illegal drugs for years.
Ms. Green did not try methamphetamine until she met the father of baby Justice, Frank Rees. She stated that she smoked marijuana throughout her entire pregnancy because that is what she has always done. However, at first she abstained from methamphetamine once she discovered she was pregnant.
She admitted to using methamphetamine a few times in the final three to four months of her pregnancy. She also indicated that a few hours before she gave birth to Justice she relapsed and used a more than usual amount of methamphetamine.
She took about four to five hits with a smoking pipe at the time, which consequently caused her water to break a short while later. She was admitted to the hospital for five days and had to remain in the ICU the entire time.
Shortly after being admitted, Child Welfare Services (CWS, sometimes still referred to as CPS) showed up to review the situation. As they questioned her, she broke down and told them she was sorry for taking those few hits. Before Mr. Rees talked with CPS, she let him know what had happened.
This confession caused her to perceive a subsequent emotional rift in her relationship with Mr. Rees. She began to feel that Mr. Rees did not care about her and was distancing himself emotionally. It only took two weeks after baby Justice was born for her to start using controlled substances again.
Next, Detective Glaser asked Ms. Green to recount the prior week to him. This point in the recording is when Ms. Green started displaying signs of paranoia.
Apparently, Frank was accusing her of keeping his money from him as he was running low due to gambling debts. She stated that Frank would always try to hide his electronics from her so she would not see what he was doing.
On the 20th of February, she stated that she questioned Frank about why he had been so distant recently; in response, he avoided her. She then realized that Frank was using his other children to spy on her. She said they would call him at random times while he was gone and discuss her behavior.
Ms. Green was experiencing high anxiety about her relationship to Frank and thus began to feel more agitated as the week progressed. She stated that she felt unsafe inside her own home and constantly thought someone was in the attic because she heard strange noises coming from the room.
She said Frank would play off her fears and intentionally make her look like a bad mother. He called her “crazy” for feeling that way.
Ms. Green also suspected Frank of cheating on her with a female friend of theirs. This suspicion became greater as she observed this friend wearing Green’s hair ties around her own wrist. She stated that this was an affirmation that Mr. Rees and the friend were having an affair because, during sex, Mr. Rees would use a hair tie to wrap around his penis to help him last longer.
There were other times when Ms. Green felt Mr. Rees was discreetly filming her whenever they performed sexual acts together. She confronted him and asked him directly if he was a porn star, which was the only logical assumption she came to. He told her that he was indeed a porn star, and started telling her about this secret that he had kept from her for so long.
Ms. Green stated that this is when her memory starts to become fuzzy, because they had administered “butt shots” to each other that evening. She described a “butt shot” as a mix of water and methamphetamine which is injected into the anus with a syringe.
She was unaware of how much she took that evening and admitted that she had always had a problem with not paying attention to what type or how much of a controlled substance a person gave her.
Ms. Green began to have another anxiety attack and Detective Glaser left the room to get her some water. After he left, she was heard on the recording quietly saying, “Damn bastards.” Unfortunately, it is unclear to whom she is referring.
The morning after she took the “butt shot,” Mr. Rees apparently told her that she was a triplet, he was an octuplet and they had both been separated from their siblings at birth. He allegedly told her that this had also happened to Justice. He said Justice was a twin.
This caused Ms. Green more anxiety and she asked to see her other baby. Mr. Rees told her that she would see her other baby “in time.” His admission to being a porn star led her to an overwhelming feeling of contentment. She felt Mr. Rees loved her again.
The next day, around 10:00 in the morning, Mr. Rees said he wanted to go to Knights Landing in Woodland with Ms. Green and their baby, Justice. During the car ride, Mr. Rees told her not to trust anyone and that if she wanted to see both her babies together, she would protect Justice with her life.
Ms. Green, at the defense table in the courtroom, began to cry silently.
In the recording, she told Detective Glaser that she had felt hazy at the time from another “butt shot” she had taken early that morning. Mr. Rees also told her that she would have to swim and overcome several obstacles in order to be with him.
Judge Rosenberg stopped the video at this point and ordered the trial to reconvene at 9:00 am on September 1, 2016.