WOODLAND (CBS13) — In the latest twist of the Baby Justice case, his mother will face a murder charge in the death of her 20-day-old infant.
Yolo County prosecutors amended the complaint against Samantha Green, 23, on Wednesday, but wouldn’t comment on why the charges changes, citing a gag order on the case.
Leading up to her March 4 hearing, investigators had been pointing toward a possible murder charge for Samantha Green in the death of Justice Rees. Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto said she would likely face a murder charge after her Feb. 28 arrest. Prosecutors instead charged her with involuntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Jennifer Mouzis has been following the case and says it’s not unheard of for charges to change.
“Complaints are amended all of the time, they are amended early on the investigation and the court process,” she said. “It appears in at least this case, they may have developed additional facts that would change their opinion about the culpability of the mother.”
While prosecutors are not talking, Mouzis says additional witnesses or evidence may have led prosecutors to feel Green deserved the higher charge. The autopsy may have yielded more information.
“That takes anywhere from days to months; I’ve seen it take up to a year for an autopsy to come back with a final conclusion,” she said.
Justice’s father Frank Rees was arrested on unrelated charges a day after Green’s arrest. He appeared in a separate courtroom on those charges on March 4 and was released.
Two days later, he was arrested again at his parents’ home in Woodland after investigators found methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and ammunition in the home. Investigators say drugs were found where his children could access them.
He has not been charged in connection with the baby’s death, but deputies have not publicly cleared him either.
“You really have to look at the cause of death and whether he was available to contribute to that cause of death to see if he is a viable suspect,” Mouzis said.
Green will be in court on Friday. Rees remains in custody.