NewsWest Boys Trial


Day One: Opening statements, testimony begins in West Boys trial

The Wests are charged with second-degree murder in the death of the two young boys and are facing six felony counts in connection to their disappearance.
Posted: 8:49 AM, Mar 28, 2023
Updated: 2023-03-29 12:27:51-04
Trezell and Jacqueline West, Bakersfield

(UPDATE: 6:00 PM): The first day of court testimony in the case against Trezell and Jaqueline West wrapped up Tuesday afternoon, and the theme of the day for both the prosecution and defense was unanswered questions, the biggest being what led investigators to believe that Orrin and Orson West were killed before they were reported missing, especially given that their bodies have never been found.

Prosecutor Eric Smith presented a timeline of statements made by the Wests other children claiming they haven't seen Orrin since leaving Bakersfield or Orson since just after the family moved to California City. Smith also presented messages from Jaqueline West trying to keep investigators from speaking to the other West children.

"Jaqueline said 'Please tell them we love them and miss them,' and she also said 'The boys need to ask for a lawyer if they want to talk to them again. I don't want them twisting whatever they are saying,'" said Smith.

Defense attorney Timothy Hennesy, however, says this is where the investigation takes a wrong turn.

"Bottom line is Cal City never thought that people would take two little Black boys. That's why the investigation will look the way it does," said Hennessy, arguing that CCPD believed the Wests were involved from the beginning.

Hennessy told the jury that from the start, California City Police did not believe the Wests, and ignored other possible leads, including a possible sighting of the boys in Texas that Hennessy claims was never investigated.

Defense attorney Alekxia Torres-Stallings also questioned officers who initially responded to the 911 call from the Wests, asking one officer about a firearm found at the home that night. The officer said he did not recall seeing the gun until Torres-Stallings showed him video of himself in possession of that firearm.

Questioning another officer, Hennessy asked about an interview conducted with Jaqueline West, claiming the officer had lied to her about the extent of the investigation. The officer agreed that West had been misinformed, saying it was a ruse to see how she would react.

The Wests 4 other children are scheduled to testify as part of this trial, which will continue Wednesday morning at 9:00.


(UPDATE: 11:55 AM): Following opening statements, witness testimony began, with emergency dispatcher Talia Artalejo testifying for the court. Artalejo was the dispatcher who received the 9-1-1 call made by Trezell reporting Orrin and Orson missing on Dec 21, 2020.

According to her testimony, Artalejo requested the adoption records for the two missing boys from Child Protective Services (CPS) after they were reported missing and gave CPS basic information on the Wests, such as their names and address. She was also questioned on the practices of officers, such as the usage of department cell phones, by Torres-Stallings.

Following Artalejo on the stand was Officer Joshua Flores with the California City Police Department. According to Flores, he and a field officer named Officer Hanson arrived at the home of the West family after the 9-1-1 call reporting the missing and made contact with Trezell upon arrival. The officers then searched the area for the boys in the "neighborhood and around the house" while in a police vehicle and also spoke with neighbors, who had not seen the boys.

While Flores was on the stand, the initial interview with Trezell was played for the court. The interview was recorded on Flores' police body camera.

During the interview, Trezell claims that the gate to the yard was closed so that his dogs did not get out of the yard, however, he had found it open. At the time, he supposedly thought that he had made a mistake in not closing the gate and it did not occur to him that the boys had escaped.

Officers then interviewed Jacqueline, telling her that there was no way the boys had left through the backyard and that someone had either taken the boys or they had walked through the house and left since there were no footprints in the dirt. Jacqueline tells the officers that the boys had to have left through the backyard, however.

Following the playing of the body camera footage, the court was released for lunch.

(UPDATE: 11:12 AM): 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, including second-degree murder. Other charges include involuntary manslaughter, child cruelty, falsely reporting an emergency and conspiracy.

The bodies of the boys have never been found, however, the Kern County District Attorney's Office claims that evidence shows that the boys both had died before they were reported missing.

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.

Opening statements concluded after defense attorneys Alekxia Torres Stallings and Fatima Rodriguez, both representing Jacqueline West, opted to hold their opening statement for their client.

(ORIGINAL STORY: 8:49 AM): Opening statements are set to begin this morning from attorneys in the trial of Jacqueline and Trezell West, accused of killing their adoptive sons, Orrin and Orson. Jury selection for the trial ended on Fri, March 24.

The Wests are charged with second-degree murder in the death of the two young boys and are facing six felony counts in connection to their disappearance.

Prosecutors allege the couple killed the boys about three months before reporting them missing in December 2020.