BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — He was soft-spoken, answering questions with no problem until he became emotional when asked to name his son’s children.
Philip West began to name them, then fell silent.
“Don’t do this to me,” Philip West said, his voice breaking and his eyes watering as he looked across the room at prosecutor Eric Smith.
Judge Charles R. Bremer told him to take some time to compose himself. Phillip West took a sip of water, let a few minutes pass in silence, then continued to testify at the trial of his son, Trezel West, who, along with his wife, Jacqueline West, is accused of murdering their two youngest adopted sons.
Trezel and Jacqueline West are charged in the deaths of Orrin, 4, and Orson, 3, who were reported missing Dec. 21, 2020, from their home in California City.
Prosecutors say the boys died about three months ago. Their bodies have not been found.
Press here to read 17 News’ live tweets about Friday’s proceedings.
Phillip West testified Friday that he never saw Orrin or Orson after his son’s family moved to California City. Prodded by Smith, he recalled telling police that the last time he could be sure he saw all the children together was on July 4, 2020.
The move to California City took place in September 2020.
Philip West said earlier that year that he sees Trezel, Jacqueline and the children every other week. He said the children were sometimes left at the Potomac Avenue home he shared with his wife and younger son.
At the time, Trezel and Jacqueline West were living at the Casa Loma Apartments on Lotus Lane in Bakersfield. Phillip West said he had never been to their home in California City, but would soon.
The disappearance of the boys changed that.
On December 19, 2020, Trezel and Jacqueline West dropped off their other four children—two biological sons and two other adopted sons—at the house on Potomac Avenue. The children were supposed to stay for a few days.
Philip West said he did not see Orin and Orson. Trezel and Jacqueline West told investigators the boys stayed in the family’s van and drove off with them after leaving the other children with Trezel’s parents.
But Bakersfield police Detective John Ryan, who testified later Friday, said surveillance footage recovered by investigators showed otherwise.
A surveillance camera attached to a home near the West family’s home on Aspen Avenue in California City captured video showing Trezel and Jacqueline West leaving their house that day and getting into the van, Ryan said.
Only four children get into the van with them, he said.
Phillip West said he was in denial when he first heard the allegations against his son. He said he was still “confused” by the situation.
The person Trezel West is accused of being is not the person he raised his sons to be, Philip West said.
“I raised them to be fathers,” he said. “I didn’t have a father. I know what it takes.”
At the start of his testimony, Phillip West seemed to reveal how much the allegations have damaged his relationship with Trezel West.
Smith, the prosecutor, asked Philip West how many children he had.
“Then or now?” Philip West asked. He did not specify what he meant. When Smith asked again how many children he had fathered, he said Trezel and Josiah. The trial continues at 9 a.m. Monday.