BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Trezell and Jacqueline West, the adoptive parents of two young boys reported missing in 2020, have been found guilty of second-degree murder and other crimes, bringing some closure to a case that captured nationwide attention.
But the question remains: Where are the boys? The bodies of Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, the Wests’ youngest adopted children, have not been found.
A jury reached verdicts on five of the seven charges after a weekslong trial in which dozens of people testified and more than 100 exhibits were presented. The verdicts were reached late Thursday afternoon and read Friday morning.
Jurors found Trezell West, 36, and Jacqueline West, 33, guilty of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and child cruelty regarding Orrin but failed to reach verdicts on second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Orson’s death. A guilty verdict for child cruelty was returned regarding Orson.
Second-degree murder carries a prison term of 15 years to life. The couple was also convicted of falsely reporting an emergency.
The jury hung 8-4 for guilt on the conspiracy charge and 10-2 for guilt on the murder charge.
Click here for the live tweets from this morning’s hearing.
Sentencing is set for July 13. On that date, prosecutor Eric Smith will announce whether he will retry the Wests on the deadlocked charges.
The Wests reported Orrin and Orson missing from their California City home on Dec. 21, 2020. Prosecutors say the boys died three months earlier while the family was still living at an apartment in Bakersfield.
Smith said the Wests — who had six children — were abusive to the adopted ones, and in September 2020 Orrin died. They then came up with a plan to kill Orson and dispose of the bodies, he said.
The Wests’ eldest child, 10 at the time of the boys’ disappearance, testified he saw Orrin dead and his parents told him if he said anything he and the other children would be taken away. He testified he doesn’t know what his parents did with the body.
The family moved to California City a week later, according to the boy’s testimony. He said Orson disappeared soon after.
Defense counsel argued authorities focused on their clients at the expense of thoroughly investigating other possibilities, including whether the boys were kidnapped by a sex offender or someone from their biological family. Trezell West was represented by Timothy Hennessy and Victor Nasser, Jacqueline West by Alekxia Torres Stallings and Fatima Rodriguez.
A gag order remains in place and attorneys, investigators and others involved in the case are barred from speaking publicly on the matter.