Bakersfield, California: Orson and Orrin were reported missing from their California City, California residence in the evening of December 21, 2020 after their adopted parents allegedly spent time searching the home and surrounding area for the two boys.
The Kern County District Attorney's Office held a press conference yesterday morning to announce that a grand jury returned a five count indictment against each of the adoptive parents of Orson and Orrin West.
According to District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, the state presented evidence to the grand jury over a three month period of time.
Trezell Phillip West, 35, and Jacqueline Gabrielle West, 32, of California City have both been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of willful cruelty to a child and one count of false report of an emergency.
They are both being held in the Kern County Jail without bond and were scheduled to be arraigned this morning. According to KGET, both entered not-guilty pleas to the charges.
Judge Chad Louie has scheduled their trial to begin on May 23, 2022.
During the press conference, the DA was extremely cautious to not reveal any facts of the case but did assert that despite not recovering the bodies of either 3-year-old Orson or 4-year-old Orrin, the grand jury had been convinced by the evidence they presented that the two boys are deceased.
"I would like to emphasize that the fact that law enforcement has not found their bodies does not preclude a murder prosecution," Zimmerman said. "As a matter of fact, there have been many, hundreds of what we call no-body homicides prosecuted across the United States successfully."
According to Zimmerman, a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence which will be presented during the trial, convinced the grand jury that the brothers died three months before they were ever reported as missing.
The Wests had four other children, two of which were also adopted. Those children have been placed into protective custody.