BAKERSFIELD, CA – A couple from California, Trezell Phillip West, 36, and Jacqueline Gabrielle West, 33, have been sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to life imprisonment, with an additional four years, for the murder of their adopted son, Orrin West, 4, and the severe abuse of another, Orson West, 3. The latter is also presumed dead, with authorities holding the couple accountable for his demise as well.
In May, the Bakersfield couple were found guilty on five out of seven charges related to the disappearance and presumed murders of the two children, who were reported missing in December 2020. Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer stated in a post-sentencing press conference that the evidence against the Wests was overwhelming.
The sentencing, originally scheduled for July, had been postponed multiple times. A gag order also restricted the release of much information about the case for most of the year. Initially, the Wests were charged with two counts each of second-degree murder, two counts each of willful cruelty to a child, as well as one count each of false report of an emergency. After indictment, they were tried on additional charges, including conspiracy to commit murder and involuntary manslaughter.
The jury found the Wests guilty of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in relation to Orrin, both counts of willful cruelty to a child, and false report of emergency. However, they could not reach a verdict on the charges related to Orson, which were subsequently dismissed. The DA chose not to retry the couple on the remaining charges, primarily to avoid further trauma to the other children in the Wests’ care.
During the trial, some of the most compelling testimony came from the Wests’ own children. Zimmer noted the difficulty the children faced testifying against their parents. The county’s trial attorney, Eric Smith, was also firm about the guilt the state could not prove.
The trial revealed that suspicion fell on the Wests after Bakersfield police interviewed their four other children. The defense unsuccessfully argued that these interviews were improper and unreliable due to the children’s young age and the leading nature of the questions.
The Wests’ eldest child, who was 10 at the time of the boys’ disappearance, testified that he found Orrin dead and was instructed by his parents to remain silent or risk being taken away. The whereabouts of Orrin’s body remain unknown, and the boys’ bodies have yet to be found. Zimmer expressed hope that they will be discovered and brought home.