Prosecution rests in trial of felon accused of killing baby in Palm Desert crash
Defense testimony is slated to begin tomorrow in the trial of a felon accused of killing his infant daughter in a high-speed crash on the south end of Palm Desert.
Marcus Novell Green, 58, of Thermal, is charged with second-degree murder, child cruelty and a sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegation for the June 2016 death of 5-month-old Armani Green.
On Tuesday, the prosecution tentatively rested, though at least one additional witness is expected to be summoned to the Riverside Hall of Justice by Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Sam Paixao for rebuttal testimony early next week.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst ordered the jury to return to the courthouse Thursday for the defense's case, which will likely wrap up next week.
Green is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
His ex-girlfriend, 29-year-old Kristen Lauer of Rancho Mirage, pleaded guilty in 2019 to second-degree murder and child cruelty and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky to a lifetime term of probation.
Strunsky justified the sentence by pointing to the physical impairments, including a brain injury, Lauer suffered because of the wreck. He downplayed the part she played in the crash, describing hers as a "neglectful criminal act," not a deliberate one.
The District Attorney's Office had sought a minimum 15-year prison term for the woman.
Armani was sitting on her mother's lap, not restrained in a car seat, when the crash occurred on a segment of Highway 74 that is narrow and courses through hills.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Green was likely driving up to 60 mph on a segment of the corridor where the speed limit is 30 mph due to steering hazards.
The defendant was at the wheel of a modified 2015 Porsche sports coupe and lost control, causing the vehicle to skid toward the shoulder and plow through a guardrail, after which it plunged down a 200-foot embankment, prosecutors said.
Armani was hurled 90 feet from the car when it overturned, suffering catastrophic injuries. The infant was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics less than an hour later.
Thomas Carlson, a California Highway Patrol forensic mechanic, testified during Green's February 2019 preliminary hearing that the car had no major mechanical issues that might have contributed to the crash. He said the right rear tire was leaking, but not enough to cause a loss of control.
According to court records, Green has prior convictions for firearm assault, robbery and theft going back to the early 1990s.