The trial for the adoptive parents of Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, West is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Trezell and Jacqueline West are charged with 2nd-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, child cruelty, falsely reporting an emergency and conspiracy.
The boys were reported missing back in December of 2020. Originally their adoptive parents claimed the boys disappeared from their backyard in California City. However, prosecutors allege the boys died three months prior.
The bodies of Orrin and Orson have not been found. During the trial, we hope to learn what evidence the prosecution has to believe the boys are dead.
We are now being let into Department 4 for the trial. Judge Charles R. Brehmer is the presiding judge.
The trial is now in session. Judge Brehmer is explaining the delay was due to a juror (juror 6) no longer being a part of this trial.
There is a large TV in the center of the courtroom. Judge Brehmer explained this will only be here as needed for opening statements. It will display the same images that will be displayed on the monitor.
Judge Brehmer is now reading the entirety of the charges against Trezell and Jacqueline West.
Eric Smith is the prosecutor on this trial. Timothy Hennessy and Victor Nasser are representing Trezell, and Jacqueline West is represented by Alekxia Torres Stallings and Fatima Rodriguez.
One of the overt acts Judge Brehmer has just read alleges that Trezell arranged for the boys to be at their residence in Cal City on the week of Sept. 18, 2020
Another overt act alleges that they arranged for an unknown co-conspirator to kill the boys after the Wests planned their deaths.
Judge Brehmer is reading the jury instructions now.
Judge Brehmer is explaining to the jury that there are three sides to this trial: the prosecution, Trezell West, and Jacqueline West. Prosecutor Smith is now beginning his opening statements.
Prosecutor Smith begins by introducing the investigating officer Thomas Hernandez of the Bakersfield Police Department
"Their bodies have never been found," Smith said. He's now showing photos of the adoption ceremony of the boys.
"Their primary source of income when they were living Cal City were the $4,000 they were receiving from [caring for their adoptive children]," said Smith.
Smith said this case will begin from the date when the boys were reported missing, Dec. 21, 2020. He said the case will then move backwards. Smith is playing a recording of the 9-1-1 call of Trezell West asking if anyone has seen two black children.
Smith is showing an arial map of the Wests home at 10717 Aspen Avenue. Smith is pointing out a fence that he says Trezell West alleged the boys left the backyard through.
Smith is describing the overwhelming amount of assistance put into looking for the boys. Smith played body camera footage from Anthony Cabriales shows Trezell explaining his alleged efforts to look for the boys
Smith said Trezell claimed he closed their gate but when officers arrived the gate was open. Smith is showing footage officers attempting to open and close that gate.
Smith said the gate was difficult to open and it's inconsistent with two small children being able to open it.
Smith said we will hear from a neighbor Jesse Dobbins who had his home security camera activated multiple times the night the boys were reported missing. Smith said he will testify there was no activation showing the boys leaving the yard.
"Again it's the inconsistencies that lead the officers to keep investigating," Smith said. "Based on some statements from Jacqueline, a cadaver dog was taken out there." Smith said the dog became alert in the backyard, but nothing was ever found
Smith is showing two of the Wests children. He said the Adrian West told officers that Orrin and Orson had gone to their grandmother's home soon after they moved to Cal City.
Smith said that the Wests children told them that Orrin and Orson did not move with them because "they cry a lot." Smith said the children told investigators the last time they saw Orrin and Orson was either before or right when they moved to Cal City.
Smith showed a Facebook post from Jacqueline that seems to accuse investigators of "twisting" what the other children have told them.
On Dec. 28, Adrian, one of the Wests kids, said he saw Orrin became very sick at one point, was throwing up, and his parents did not call for medical attention. He said Orson was in Cal City for 4 days before Adrian heard a thud and he was gone.
Smith said all 4 of the Wests other children will testify in this trial.
Smith is sharing the timeline of the Wests move to Cal City. He said Dec. 18, 2020 was the day Wanda West went to Cal City to watch the boys, which did not include Orrin and Orson, Smith said.
Smith is showing the last known photo of Orrin and Orson, taken July 25, 2020. Smith said Jacqueline to her kids to pretend the boys are not there and that they were kept separate from the other children.
Smith concluded his opening statements by stating that ultimately the boys are dead and asking to jury to find the Wests guilty. The trial is taking a short break.
The trial for Trezell and Jacqueline West is back in session. Defense Attorney Timothy Hennessy is beginning his opening statements
Hennessy said we are here because it’s easier to claim the boys are dead than to keep looking for them.
Hennessy says the Wests were very open with detectives. "Trezell explains the reason he got Orrin and Orson and the reason he was so proud of them was because they were two little Black boys and he was going to father to them."
"Now he's here because they [investigators] couldn't find them," Hennessy said.
Prosecutors have asked for a sidebar. The judge and attorneys have left the courtroom.
Hennessy is now discussing the number of registered sex offenders in Cal City. He's saying it's not until 11 days after the boys are reported missing that police even begin talking to any of them.
Hennessy said police received a call to talk to a Hector Rodriguez who has been out of compliant for some time. He said police never talked to him.
"You'll see in the interviews they think the 3-minute estimate he gives them is too small," Hennessy said while playing video footage of a car driving by the home.
Attorneys and the judge have returned and opening statements have resumed. Before the sidebar, Hennessy had just mentioned a woman had called police from Texas.
"Texas, a woman calls," Hennessy says. Hennessy says the woman claimed she met two little boys who said their names were Orrin and Orson before a man says "No, your name is Garrett."
Hennessy says it's not Trezell and Jaqueline who are inconsistent, but instead it's their children with inconsistencies.
Hennessy claims that from the beginning, Cal City Police never believed that anyone would take these boys. Hennessy has concluded his opening statements.
Jaqueline West's attorney Alekxia Torres-Stallings will not provide opening statements at this time. Prosecutor Eric Smith is now calling his first witness, a dispatcher in Cal City.
The dispatcher is recalling when she received the 911 call from Trezell West. A receipt of the call is being shown. The call is being played.
Each of the Wests are charged with murder with malice aforethought of Orrin and Orson West. This occurred or about Sept. 1, 2020 through Sept. 11, 2020, the charge says. #WestsTrial 9:31 AM · Mar 28, 2023
They're charged with willfully harming the boys and conspiracy to commit murder. They're also charged with failing to provide a legal duty in a criminally negligent manner regarding involuntary manslaughter. #WestsTrial 9:32 AM · Mar 28, 2023
They're charged with a number of overt acts. Trezell West arranged for the boys to stay in Cal City on the week of Sept. 18, 2020. #WestsTrial 9:33 AM · Mar 28, 2023
He introduced Detective Thomas Hernandez from BPD, the investigating officer. A TV is in the courtroom to show specific surveillance footage from a house near where the Wests lived. #WestsTrial 9:45 AM · Mar 28, 2023
The next witness called is Joshua Flores, a police officer with Cal City PD
Flores said he's been with the department about 5 months when he was dispatched to the Wests residence.
Smith is asking Flores if he recalled what he heard on dispatch that night. He said it was missing children. Flores said when he arrived to the area he met Trezell West.
Flores said they began searching the area and talking to neighbors if they'd seen the children. Flores said everyone they spoke to said they hadn't seen the children walking around.
Flores said he entered the residence. He said he only spoke with Trezell. Smith is playing audio from Flores's body-worn camera.
Flores asks Trezell about the gate, Trezell is heard saying he was going in and out. Trezell said he closed the gate because he didn't want the dogs to get out.
He then said when he saw it open he thought he'd made a mistake and it didn't "dawn" on him that anything happened.
Trezell is heard saying after a while he had a bad feeling and noticed he hadn't heard the boys. Video of the body-worn camera is now showing Flores and other officers in the home.
In the video, Flores and other officers are speaking to Jaqueline now. You can hear Jaqueline say she heard footsteps and she told the boys to go back outside.
In the video, Flores asks Jaqueline where Trezell was when she told the boys to go back outside. She said he was outside. Now an officer is telling Jaqueline that he only found dog prints in the dirt in their backyard.
The officer in the video is telling Jaqueline that there's no way the boys left through the backyard. "So then how did they leave the house?" "There's no other way," Jaqueline responds.
The officers are saying there's no way the boys left through the backyard so they either left another way or were taken somewhere. Jaqueline says no one took the boys anywhere and they couldn't have left the house any other way.
A neighbor comes and asks about the boys. The neighbor asks the name of the boys and officers respond Orrin and Orson. Jacqueline asks if that was a cop and officers say it's a concerned neighbor.
Judge Brehmer has asked Smith to pause the video. The trial is being paused for lunch. It will resume at 1:30.
AW, the eldest biological child, was 10 at the time the boys were reported missing.
AW said he woke one night while the family still lived in Bakersfield to noises coming from Orrin, Smith said during his opening. AW said Orrin struggled to breathe, and died, according to the interview he gave Dec. 28, 2020.
His parents never called for medical aid, AW said. Instead, they decided to keep the death a secret, the child said according to Smith.
Orrin never made it to California City, and Orson was only there four days, according to AW’s interview.
Smith said the child told an interviewer he heard a “loud thud” one night. Orson had been at the home day before the thud was heard, the child said according to Smith. The next day Orson was gone, AW said.
Poor Orson. Had to know his brother wasn't coming back and he was next. All those kids in that home probaby laid in bed at night scared and wondering if they were next. I cannot believe this will really go through June?
The 9-1-1 call Trezell made, reporting the boys missing is being played. He called at 5:41PM on December 21st, 2020.
Eric Smith, prosecutor- Trezell and Jacqueline West entered escrow on the California City house in May 2020. It closed in September 2020.
Eric Smith, prosecutor- Trezell and Jacqueline West had four adopted children. They got $1,000 from the state per child. That adoption money was their primary source of income when they reported Orrin and Orson missing, December 21st, 2020.
Eric Smith, prosecutor says there were inconsistencies in the stories of Jacqueline and Trezell of who opened and closed the gate.
Eric Smith, prosecutor says there were no footprints from a child in the dirt, only adult footprints.
Eric Smith, prosecutor says Trezell and Jacqueline’s two other adopted sons and two biological sons did not see Orrin and Orson in California City. The adopted sons told police their parents told them Orrin and Orson were with Jacqueline’s Mother in Bakersfield.
Eric Smith, prosecutor says the two biological sons and two other adopted sons of Trezell and Jacqueline told police their parents told them Orrin and Orson went to be with Trezell’s mother in Bakersfield before they moved to California City.
Eric Smith, prosecutor says we will look at a lot of interviews with Trezell and Jacqueline and see their stories are not consistent and do not match up.
Tim Hennessy, attorney for Trezell West is giving his opening statements. He says Trezell says he got Orrin and Orson because they were two little black boys just like him and he was so proud of them.
Tim Hennessy, attorney for Trezell West says there is a video footage showing Orrin and Orson walking down the street. After Hennessy said that Eric Smith, prosecutor, asked the judge for a sidebar conversation. The attorneys are still talking with Judge Brehmer.
Tim Hennessy, Trezell’s attorney- There were 41 registered sex offenders in California City. Police did not talk to any until January 1,202 (11 days later). Police went to only 4 homes. Police actually spoke to only 2 registrants.
Tim Hennessy, Trezell’s attorney- Hector Rodriguez calls police and tells them to check a house in Blythe. He was a registered sex offender in Kern County. He went to them, they didn’t come to him.
Hennessy finished. Torres’s Stallings. The attorney for Jacqueline West reserved her opening statements. First witness is being called to the stand.
The California City Police Department dispatcher who received Trezell’s 9-1-1 call on December 21st, 2020 that Orrin and Orson were missing, is testifying at the witness stand. The prosecutor, Eric Smith is asking her questions.
Eric Smith is playing the audio of Trezell’s 9-1-1 call. Trezell told the dispatcher he was wondering did anyone say they found some children, little black boys? He said I can’t find his children. He said he and his wife searched around their property for them.
Dispatcher Artelajo is saying at the stand she calls CPS if a child is in danger or if a child needs to be removed from a home. She called CPS and wanted to know if the adoption occurred. She gave CPS the parents and children's names.
Dispatcher Artelajo has been excused and is subject to recall. Next witness for the people (Proscuting attorny, Eric Smith)-Officer Flores.
Officer Flores says he was called to Aspen Ave. for a report of missing children. After making contact with Trezell West he surveyed the area looking for the children. He talked to children asking if they had seen children walking around. He did that with his car.
Officer Flores says he stopped at certain residents and asked if they saw children walking around. Eric Smith asked did you have any positive responses? Officer Flores said no. Officer Flores says he was wearing a body worn camera.
The body worn camera video shows officers looking through Trezell and Jacqueline’s house with a flashlight.
Body worn camera-The officers asked Jacqueline where the boys were. She said playing outside. The officer says he did not see any tracks in the dirt. The officer says he would really like to know the truth of what is going on.
Body worn camera-Officer says they did not leave through the back. Jacqueline says there is no other way they could have gone out.
Body worn camera video-Jacqueline told the officer the boys could still be in the house.
Opening statements in the trial of Jacqueline and Trezell West were given on Tues, March 28. The Wests are accused of six felony counts related to the disappearance of Orrin and Orson West.
According to the prosecution, Jacqueline and Trezell West adopted the boys, born Classic and Cincere Pettus, with the intention to live off of the money the couple would receive for caring for the boys. Prosecutor Eric Smith accuses the Wests of planning out the deaths of Orrin and Orson with an unknown co-conspirator who then killed the boys.
The defense, however, argues that Jacqueline and Trezell are simply the parents of two missing children being punished by California City for "being different." Defense attorney Timothy Hennessy, who is representing Trezell West, claims that the city finds it easier to blame the parents for the deaths of the boys than to keep looking for them. Hennessy also argues that the police and prosecution are inconsistent in the details provided to the court.
More than two years after two toddlers were reported missing in California City and a year after the District Attorney charged the adoptive parents with murder,
The prosecution took the stand first and talked about multiple discrepancies in Trezell and Jacqueline Wests' stories, including who closed the gate when the boys got out.
But the ultimate bombshell from court Tuesday morning was when prosecutor Eric smith explained that there was an interview with the other three brothers in the home who claimed Orrin and Orson were never in the home in California City and the fourth brother said they were only there for one day.
In opening statements, it was said the oldest son, AW, explained in an interview that while they were still in the apartment before moving to Cal City, he heard something in the middle of the night and saw Orrin sick, and said he died.
He said no medical attention was ever called and he heard his parents talking about if they should keep it a secret or not.
Then days later, a “thud” was heard during the middle of the night and Orson was never seen again, according to the prosecution. Some of the boys thought Orrin and Orson were living with their grandparents after their disappearance but according to the prosecution, both grandmothers said they were not.
I wonder who the "unknown co-conspirator" is. It's bad enough husband and wife conspired to do this terrible thing, but to have another person agree to be part of it just somehow makes it even worse.
Was there no one in these kids' lives who cared about them? Was it all only about the money they received caring for them?