BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — With the prosecution expected to rest its case this week in the trial of Trezell and Jacqueline West, charged in the deaths of their two youngest children, the jury will hear from the case’s most crucial witnesses: the Wests’ four other children.
One child, 10 at the time, told authorities he saw Orrin West, 4, die at the family’s apartment in Bakersfield in September 2020, shortly before the family moved to California City, according to prosecutor Eric Smith. The child said Orson West, 3, disappeared soon after.
The Wests’ three other children also told law enforcement Orrin and Orson hadn’t been seen for weeks when the Wests reported them missing on Dec. 21, 2020, according to testimony. The bodies of Orrin and Orson have not been found.
Smith has said jurors will hear from each of the four children, who were taken into protective custody.
The Wests are charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses, and face life in prison if convicted. They told police Orrin and Orson — both of whom they adopted — disappeared while playing in the backyard of the California City home.
Defense lawyers Timothy Hennessy and Victor Nasser, representing Trezell West, and Alekxia Torres Stallings and Fatima Rodriguez, representing Jacqueline West, will likely attack the credibility of the children and the techniques law enforcement used when interviewing them. Each child was 10 or younger at the time of their initial interviews.
Torres Stallings has previously remarked on a California City police officer’s lack of training in interviewing child witnesses.
Last week, an FBI agent, during cross-examination by Hennessy, confirmed a tip had been received from someone who reported seeing the boys in Arlington, Texas months after they were reported missing. The agent testified the information was forwarded to Bakersfield police.
Ryan Dean, the birth mother of Orrin and Orson, testified by Zoom after the agent. She confirmed she has an apartment in Arlington.
The address where the caller reported seeing the boys and the address given by Dean are roughly 2.5 miles apart, according to an online mapping website.
Dean was excused after testifying for the prosecution but will likely be recalled for further testimony once defense lawyers begin presenting their case.
Defense attorneys have argued authorities immediately focused on the Wests and failed to consider others — including members of the boys’ biological family — while conducting their investigation. Closing arguments are expected to be given around mid-May.