BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The jury has spoken. The judge has spoken. The prosecutors have spoken.
But we still don’t have a clear idea of what happened to the two boys.
“Are you asking what really happened, what we really think happened, outside of what happened in court?” said Cynthia Zimmer in response to a question at a press conference held after the sentencing of Trezell and Jacqueline West in the deaths of two of their adopted sons.
“We don’t want to speculate too much because some of this is our gut feeling,” she said.
A gut feeling on the still-unanswered questions on the whereabouts of 4-year-old Cinsere Pettus and 3-year-old Classic Pettus, renamed Orrin and Orson by the Wests.
“Those are their birth names, and I’m not gonna use the other names that their killers named them after the state entrusted them with their care,” Zimmer said.
We don’t know why the brothers were killed. We don’t now how they were killed. We don’t know exactly when.
It remains unknown how Orrin and Orson died, and which adoptive parent bears more responsibility.
Did Trezell West kill them both? Did Jacqueline? Did they both?
“My opinion is after Cinsere was killed, that Classic was lost,” Zimmer said. “And without Cinsere, Classic was probably crying a lot, devastated, probably looking for him, and they had to come up with something to take care of that.”
She says Cinsere was killed first when the family lived in Bakersfield and never made it to California City, while Classic likely was in California City for a few days before his disappearance.
Zimmer also says the children were killed in September of 2020 but were not reported missing until December of that year.
The jury didn’t reach a verdict on two counts against Classic — second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The case’s trial attorney, Eric Smith, and Zimmer announced there will be no retrial on those two counts.
“The major factor was the difficulty that would’ve put the witness through,” said Zimmer, explaining her team’s reasoning. “As you know, the majority, not the majority, but some of the most impactful testimony was from the children in the home. It was very difficult for them and in essence, they had to testify against their parents.”
Right before the sentencing Thursday morning, Jacqueline West’s defense attorney made an emotional request for a probationary sentence, to which Zimmer says she has not seen a judge here issue such a sentence before.
“I was offended, quite frankly, by the defense argument in court trying to paint Jacqueline West as the victim.”
DA Zimmer called this case one of Kern’s most exhaustive, thorough investigations.
She also addressed the gag order — lifted upon sentencing — that had been implemented in the early days of the trials. Zimmer maintained the gag order did not infringe upon anyone’s rights, while Smith added it was because of high media interest and ensuring an unbiased jury.
Zimmer said even if the bodies are found in the future, the case likely won’t be back in court. But searches can pick up anytime.
“If there is a viable lead or tip,” Zimmer said of resuming searches. “But right now, we don’t have any. And of course that these killers choose to do the right thing and come forth and tell us where they are.”
And that’s the big missing piece to the puzzle. Where are the boys?