BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Along with charges of murder and child cruelty filed against the adoptive parents of Orrin and Orson West are a number of circumstances in aggravation, among them that they induced a minor to assist in committing a crime.
Which juvenile, if more than one was involved and exactly what they did is not contained in the indictment, which simply lays out the charges and circumstances in aggravation against Trezell and Jacqueline West. The Wests had custody of two other adopted children and two biological children at the time Orrin and Orson are believed to have been killed.
The couple pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that could result in life terms in prison. Both are represented by attorneys assigned through the Indigent Defense Program — Timothy Hennessy for Trezell West and Alekxia Torres Stallings for Jacqueline West.
A trial date is set for May 23.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Trezell West, 35, told authorities his youngest adopted children disappeared while playing outside. Jacqueline West, 32, vouched for her husband’s story that Orrin, 4, and Orson 3, vanished that evening.
Prosecutors, however, say the boys were killed three months before reported missing. Evidence leading to that conclusion won’t be revealed until trial, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.
Other circumstances in aggravation listed in the indictment are as follows: the victims were particularly vulnerable due to their age; the Wests occupied a position of leadership or dominance over other participants in the commission of the crime; they threatened witnesses, unlawfully prevented witnesses from testifying or otherwise interfered with the judicial process; they took advantage of a position of trust or confidence; they committed a crime that involved great violence showing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness or callousness; and the manner in which the crime was carried out indicates planning, sophistication or professionalism.
A hearing on a gag order and to seal documents related to the case is scheduled next week.