BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Some trials go beyond exercises in justice that are confined to the immediate participants and their families. Some reach into this community and grab hold.
Such was the case with Orrin and Orson West – boys who never got a chance to become who they might have been. Victims of an imperfect system that, for all the good it does, has its shortcomings.
How does one trial – that of Trezell and Jacqueline West, the boys’ adoptive parents – seize the attention, and the passion, of so many people for such a sustained period? How do two young victims – unknown to virtually everyone except their closest relatives – capture an entire community’s heart?
Mark Anthony Raimondo, a local defense attorney who has followed the trial closely but is not connected to it, says it’s about the unique legal challenge of this case and about innocence.
“Number one, two little children,” Raimondo said. “You know, the nature of their disappearance. Also the fact that there were no bodies presents some unbelievable challenges to gain a conviction. … So it has both the legal aspect of interest and also the heart is also grabbed.”
A recipe for public fascination and empathy, no question. The search for the boys, the investigation and the lead-up to the trial took many twists and turns, but public interest never waned.
Angel Lee, who has been in the courtroom for most of the trial, said it was, again, about the pure innocence of the young victims.
“It started in California City, back to Bakersfield, where it originated … and then boots on the ground out here in Bakersfield,” Lee said. “The hearts of people around the world had love for these two little babies.”