COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — Almost three years ago, Kathleen Dawn West, a Calera mother who had an online following as a “camgirl” and posted adult-themed photos of herself on the internet, was found dead in her home. Her husband, Jeff West, was later charged with her murder.
On Tuesday, the trial against Jeff West began in Shelby County. During opening statements, prosecutor Daniel McBrayer maintained that Jeff West murdered his wife, also known as “Kat,” by hitting her on the head with a liquor bottle.
McBrayer then began to tell a story from the perspective of the witness who discovered Kat West’s body early Jan. 13, 2018. McBrayer said the witness asked the 911 dispatcher why no one had called this in because she was watching a man, across the street, with his front door open, pacing back and forth.
John Charles Robbins, West’s attorney, countered the prosecution by saying that Jeff West was innocent and that Kat West was drunk and fell, hitting her head the night she died.
Robbins went through what happened the night of Jan. 12, 2018, when West died. That night was a date night for the couple, who stopped at a liquor store, purchased a bottle of absinthe, and stopped at Publix before returning home.
Robbins said when the couple got home, Kat West changed into a pink bra, panties, and high heels. Jeff West then took photos of his wife for his adult website, then the two made drinks. He said that due to Jeff having a military-related injury that caused his leg to hurt, he decided to sleep downstairs in the guest bedroom.
Robbins said West was found wearing only a pink bra and that evidence showed her blood alcohol content was at 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit. Specifically, he said that the cause of West’s death–which an autopsy report attributed to blunt force trauma–was indisputable, but how it happened is in question. He added that the report did not rule out falling and that ultimately, the manner of death was undetermined.
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Brandon Myers, an officer with the Calera Police Department, was the first witness to take the stand. In his testimony, Myers said he arrived on the scene at 5:11 a.m. and remembered it being a cold morning with temperatures that were below freezing. Myers said West, who was showing no signs of life, was found partially in the roadway next to a pool of blood. A bottle of alcohol and a cell phone were located nearby. Myers said two witnesses who had originally called 911 were sitting across the street.
The next witness called to the stand was Marcosha Purifoy. She testified that she was driving to her job at Jack’s at roughly 5 a.m. Jan. 13 when she saw West’s body. After talking on the phone with her mother, Waukesha Blevins, Purifoy drove back home, picked up her mother and step-father, and returned to where Kat’s body was located.
Blevins’s 911 call was played for the jury. In the call, Blevins asked the dispatcher, “Has anyone called this in?” The dispatcher said this was the first called they received on this. Blevins then asked why nobody had called it in.
While on the stand, McBrayer asked Blevins why she asked that question to the dispatcher. She said because she saw a man across the street, with his door open, pacing back and forth.
Bodycam video and photo evidence from first responders were also submitted. Photos also showed where West’s body was found, an absinthe liquor bottle, a cork for the bottle, the bottle’s label, and a Pappadeaux Seafood match book were collected.
Bodycam video from Deputy Luigi Ragazzoni was submitted as evidence and played for the jurors to watch. In the video, Ragazzoni and Jeff West are seen talking calmly inside the house, where they discuss work, guns, the military and other topics while other first responders were outside securing the crime scene.
In the video, Jeff West said he woke up to the police lights and that he and his wife were drinking the night before and he passed out.
Testimony will continue Wednesday.