BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Fifteen months after they stood in front of their California City home begging for help finding their two young adopted sons, Trezell and Jacqueline West on Thursday pleaded not guilty to murder in the boys’ deaths.
The Wests entered not guilty pleas to two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of willful cruelty to a child and falsely reporting an emergency. They were arrested Tuesday after being indicted by grand jury.
Judge Chad Louie ordered them held without bail and scheduled trial for May 23 but, given that defense counsel has only just been assigned, that date will likely be postponed.
Trezell West is represented by Timothy Hennessy, Jacqueline West by Alekxia Torres Stallings.
Prosecutor Eric Smith asked that all offense reports be sealed and a gag order issued barring attorneys, investigators and witnesses from publicly commenting on evidence. Louie granted the request to seal the offense reports and a motion on the gag order is scheduled next week.
Prosecutors have said the boys, Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, were killed three months before they were were reported missing. Their bodies have not been found.
Trezell West, 35, told authorities the boys were playing outside while he gathered firewood Dec. 21, 2020. He said he briefly went inside and when he came back out the boys had vanished.
Jacqueline West, 32, backed up his version of events when speaking with media.
Prosecutors, however, said information received a week later led to the involvement of the Bakersfield Police Department, which eventually took over the investigation from California City police. Dozens of searches were conducted, as well as digging at sites in Bakersfield and California City.
The Wests previously lived at Casa Loma Apartments in Bakersfield.
If convicted, the Wests face 30 years to life on the murder charges.