BAKERSFIELD, CA – After an extensive investigation and trial, Trezell and Jacqueline West, the adoptive parents of Orrin and Orson West, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday. The couple was accused of murdering their young adopted sons three years ago and were handed down sentences of 15 years to life plus an additional four years.
The courtroom was filled with emotion as the sentences were announced, with audible reactions from the audience, which included biological family members of the boys and members of the public who had been following the case closely. The Wests had reported Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, missing in December 2020. However, prosecutors argued that the couple had killed the boys three months prior, disposed of their bodies, and then concocted a story about their disappearance.
In May, the Wests were convicted of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and child cruelty in relation to Orrin’s death. The jury, however, were unable to reach a verdict on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Orson’s death, although a guilty verdict was returned for child cruelty. Prosecutors have decided not to retry the Wests on the unresolved charges, citing the emotional toll on the child witnesses involved in the case.
The pivotal testimony in the case came from the Wests’ eldest biological son. He testified that he had seen Orrin dead in their Bakersfield apartment about a week before the family moved to California City in September 2020. He also revealed that Orson disappeared within a week of Orrin’s death. The other children in the home confirmed that they hadn’t seen the two boys for a long time before they were reported missing. Despite extensive searches, the boys’ bodies have not been found.
While the motive for the murders remains unclear, prosecutor Eric Smith suggested that the Wests had abused their adopted children, leading to Orrin’s death and the subsequent decision to kill Orson. District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer stated that the case was prosecuted due to the overwhelming evidence that the Wests had murdered the boys. She also noted that there had been no trace of the children since September 2020 and that any new leads on the location of the bodies would be thoroughly investigated.
The defense team, who maintained their clients’ innocence throughout the trial, is expected to hold a press conference next week. Despite a plea for Jacqueline West to be sentenced to probation, Judge Charles R. Brehmer handed down the same sentence to her as her husband, stating that he believed it to be the appropriate sentence under the law.