WOODLAND, Calif. (AP) — The mother of an infant found dead near the Sacramento River was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter and abusing or endangering the health of a child.
Samantha Green, 23, of Woodland pleaded not guilty to the charges during a court appearance.
The charges include an enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury on a child under 5 during the commission of a felony, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said.
Green was arrested Saturday in the death of 20-day-old Justice Rees, whose body was found Feb. 25 near the rural town of Knights Landing, about 30 miles west of Sacramento.
The boy's body was discovered with no obvious signs of trauma in a swampy area known as the River Cut Slough. Sheriff's investigators say he may have died from drowning or hypothermia.
A three-page criminal complaint alleges Green acted without malice.
Her parents, Randy and Laurie Green, attended her court hearing but did not comment afterward, The Sacramento Bee reported. A judge set her bail at $250,000 and ordered Green to return to court for a March 30 hearing.
The mother and child were reported missing Feb. 23 after failing to show up for a family event three days earlier. She was found disoriented the next day, and the baby's body was discovered after an all-night search.
The child tested positive for methamphetamine when he was born, Patricia Rees, the child's grandmother, told the Bee and News10, a Sacramento TV station.
The parents both tested negative for drugs and the baby was allowed to go home after Child Protective Services worked out a safety plan with the family, the grandmother said.
Patricia Rees and other family members said Green was devoted to the child, her first.
Green had lived in Rees' home for the past 10 months with the baby's father and his four children from a previous relationship.
Green initially told investigators she was abducted, an account discredited by Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, who said she was alone with her infant when she drove to the area where both were found.
Green later told News10 in a jail interview that she believed she had been drugged and fled to the unfamiliar area to protect her son because she thought she was being chased. She said she believes the child died of hypothermia.
The father, Frank Rees, was arrested on unrelated warrants and remained jailed.
He had been incarcerated at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco for treatment of drug addiction after he was sentenced on theft charges in 2010 in Yolo County, the newspaper said.
He was released from a program for criminally committed narcotic addicts in July 2013, court documents show.