BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A 16-year-old boy who lived with the couple charged in the deaths of Orrin and Orson West testified he witnessed the wife on multiple occasions place younger children in a chokehold to get them to stop crying.
The teen, a foster child who lived with Trezell and Jacqueline West for about a year around 2016 — years before before the Wests adopted Orrin and Orson — demonstrated in court on Monday the move he said Jacqueline West used on the Wests’ two other adopted children, especially one who cried frequently. He said Jacqueline West would sit on the floor with the child in front of her and interlock her arms around his neck while using her legs to grip the child’s legs and hold the rest of the body still.
The teen said Jacqueline West would scream at the child as she held him in that position for a period of time that could last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. The teen said he got angry but was young and couldn’t do anything to stop her.
Under cross-examination, the teen said he had a bed and room of his own while living with the Wests and had enough food and clothing. He acknowledged telling Wanda West, Trezell West’s mother, that he wished he could return after he was sent to another home.
The Wests are charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in the deaths of Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, who prosecutors say died about three months before the Wests reported them missing on Dec. 21, 2020. Their bodies have not been found.
The couple has said the boys disappeared while playing outside when Trezell West, who they say was gathering firewood, briefly went inside their California City home.
The Wests lived in an apartment in Bakersfield until September 2020, when they moved to California City.
Immediately after his testimony, the prosecution began calling the Wests’ children to the stand. First came the adopted children, 10 and 8.
The 10-year-old testified he remembered living in the apartment in Bakersfield and house in California City, but he struggled to answer a number of questions posed by prosecutor Eric Smith, among them the names of his adoptive parents. The boy was able to identify Trezell and Jacqueline when shown photos.
He went back and forth as to whether Orrin and Orson lived in the California City home. He told Smith the last time he saw the boys was at the apartment, but later indicated the boys had moved to California City with the rest of the family.
When asked about being dropped off at his grandmother’s house days before the boys’ disappearance was reported, the child said Trezell and Jacqueline West and the other children were in the van with the exception of Orrin and Orson. His response remained the same for both the prosecution and defense.
During his interview with police the day after the boys were reported missing, the 10-year-old said the last time he saw Orrin and Orson was at the Bakersfield apartment.
A number of the responses the children gave Monday differed from what they told police in 2020.
The 8-year-old on Monday said “I don’t know” to many of Smith’s questions. He said Orrin and Orson stayed at the California City house for “a long time.”
In the police interview played for the jury, however, the boy said Orrin and Orson were in California City for one day “but then they left.” He told police he didn’t know where they went.
The 9-year-old biological son of the Wests, who, like the other boys, wore a white collared shirt to court, said he doesn’t remember Orrin or Orson. Shown photos of the children, he said he still didn’t remember them.
But the boy told police Orrin and Orson lived with the family in Bakersfield but not in California City.
An officer, in another video played in court, asked why the boys didn’t make the move to California City.
“Because they were crying a lot,” the boy said. He said the Wests told him Orrin and Orson went back to where they used to live.
The boy resumes testifying Tuesday at 9 a.m. The Wests’ other biological child will also testify.