West Trail Gets Emotional in Court

Christian Raidor, Staff Writer

For nearly three years the relatively small settlement of California City has tried to wrap their heads around the disappearances and alleged murders of Orrin and Orson West, two adopted children who were four and three years old respectively. In the absence of a body and no clue as to where the boys are, their adoptive parents have been charged with numerous offenses, including second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and child cruelty. Their parents, Trezell and Jacqueline West, reported them missing on the 21st of December 2020. 

Still, some hold hope that the boys will be found, despite numerous excavations in the Bakersfield and California city areas. The trial is ongoing, and the Wests have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. An interview conducted the day after the Wests filed the missing persons’ report is a key piece of evidence for the prosecution, as it shows that the Wests’ other children (adopted and biological) had not seen either Orrin or Orson for a number of months. This lines up with the prosecution’s allegation that the boys had been missing for an extended period of time before the report was made. 

Raphael Ramos, a teacher of 12th grade College Prep students, stated that he was aware of the disappearances, yet noted the fact that people are innocent until proven otherwise and there has been no body found. A person can be convicted of murder in the absence of a body Ust as long as there exists enough circumstantial evidence that the victim is dead and that the defendant is behind it. However, there exists a problem with some people jumping to conclusions in absence of a clear and decisive verdict. Ramos noted this, stating that he, “[thinks] a lot of people make comments about the guilt or innocence of people without knowing the information and I would be doing the same thing”, but that “grand juries and District Attorneys don’t file charges for no reason, so I would say nothing other than there is sufficient reason to be investigating them.” 

The Orrin and Orson West case reintroduces a question regarding the way the adoptive system should operate. In tune with this, some have already called for the death penalty for Trezell and Jacqueline West, however Ramos deems this “an emotional reaction” and that he doesn’t know whether the death penalty “is all that useful”. 

Senior Andrew Sullivan hummed a very different tune, asserting that the parents, “should be in jail for sure, [and they] definitely did it.” Despite no conviction taking place, Sullivan thought the parents were, “both just evil and are not all there mentally.” Whatever the case, a crime of this magnitude should not be treated softly, but there has been no conviction of Trezell and Jacqueline West. 

This emotionally incendiary trial exposes a much deeper willingness to discard the legal aphorism of “innocent until proven guilty” because of emotion. As Ramos stated, people “should let the process play out and not jump to conclusions, hearsay or innuendo.” Out-of-court statements are generally not used to prove a truth regarding any matter, and it’s better to wait until this plays out before jumping to conclusions.