BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 17’s Alex Fisher sat down with court reporter Jason Kotowski to talk about the biggest moments of the trial of Jacqueline and Trezell West.
The couple was accused of killing their adopted sons Orrin and Orson West, after reporting them missing in December 2020. Jacqueline and Trezell West were convicted in the killing of Orrin. Neither of the boys’ bodies have been found.
Alex Fisher: So Jason, you were in the courtroom every day of this trial went on for more than a month. You sat there and watched Trezell and Jacqueline West sit as the prosecution laid out their case against them. What was it like sitting in the courtroom and just watching the couple there hear this case?
Jason Kotowski: There was a lot of anticipation before the prosecution started their opening statement. One, we were all wondering exactly what evidence they had, what was the biggest piece of evidence that they had. Uh, but two, it, we were all anticipating also looking at Trezell and Jacqueline to see how they reacted to this evidence. And throughout the trial, they remained stone-faced most of the time. There were a couple points where they showed some emotion. They got a little emotional hearing about when their children testified. They also have two biological children and two other adopted children. So they became emotional when they testified, but for the most part, they remained very quiet by their attorney’s sides, uh, didn’t show such emo much emotion and just listened to the proceedings.
AF: Now you talk about the biological children testifying in this case. I know that was a big moment. Do you think when we, when the jurors heard the testimonies, from their biological children, do you think that was probably a big, pivotal moment for the prosecution?
JK: I think that was huge for the prosecution. You had an eyewitness to the deaths of one of the boys, according to what this boy who was 10 years old at the time. He said that he saw Orrin West die. He said that he touched his body, it was cold and that his parents told him that they were going to take care of it. He said he didn’t know what happened to the body. And then he said a week later, Orson West was gone. So having that eyewitness testimony, having someone actually tell the jury, yes, Orrin is dead, I think that played a huge part and was a, was really was a pivotal role in the prosecution’s case.
AF: What was that moment like for you as a court reporter to hear that? I mean, you have sat through so many trials, hearing that testimony. I mean, you say it was a big moment, but talk about what that was like for the prosecution.
JK: It was pretty stunning. You could see there were gasps in the audience when the boy discussed touching his brother’s body, Orrin’s body and how it was cold. But also some of the jurors became emotional. And the eldest son, as he testified on the stand, had tears going down his face. For me, I thought that was huge. You know, he definitely touched some of the jurors and convinced them that this is what happened. So I think that played a major role in this case. And he stuck to his story, even under cross-examination from the defense. They said, well, you know, this, is that really the case? You just, you believe he may have died. You don’t know. And he stuck to it and said, no, I’m sure that he was dead.
AF: So once we heard from the prosecution, now we’re hearing from the defense, how do they defend Trezell and Jacqueline West?
JK: They said they didn’t do it. They said that they have been, picked out by law enforcement who did a shoddy job on this investigation. They said law enforcement failed to interview a number of sex offenders in the area, registered sex offenders. In fact, they only interviewed a small portion of them. And even that didn’t occur until some time had passed. After the boys disappeared, they maintained that the boys were kidnapped, and that the Wests had nothing to do with it. And that they are unfairly on trial.
AF: We have a verdict. In this case, Trezell and Jacqueline West have been found guilty of murdering one of the boys. There are still no bodies. So this still begs the question that we’ve been asking for years. Now, where are the boys?
JK: We still don’t have an answer to that. If you believe the prosecution, they could be in a landfill somewhere. The bodies could have been placed there, put in the trash, and then taken and in a massive landfill somewhere. That’s been speculation. If you believe the defense, they could have been kidnapped and they could still be alive, according to what defense attorneys Alexia Torres Stallings and Timothy Hennessy said at trial. So the bottom line is we still don’t know exactly where the boys are.