Deliberations Start in Trial of Felon Accused of Killing Daughter in Crash

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Jury deliberations got underway Wednesday in the trial of a convicted felon accused of killing his infant daughter in a high-speed crash on the south end of Palm Desert.

Marcus Novell Green, 58, of Themal 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.

Trial testimony concluded Tuesday, and the prosecution and defense delivered closing statements Wednesday morning at the Riverside Hall of Justice. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst sent jurors behind closed doors shortly before 2 p.m., and deliberations lasted roughly 90 minutes before adjournment.

The judge ordered the panel to resume deliberations Thursday morning.

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 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 it, describing hers as a “neglectful criminal act,” not a deliberate one.

The Riverside County 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 prosecutors, 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.

According to court records, Green has prior convictions for firearm assault, robbery and theft going back to the early 1990s.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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