COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — The trial against a Calera man accused of killing his wife with a liquor bottle entered its third day Thursday.
Kathleen Dawn West, a “camgirl” who made money by posting racy photos of herself online, was found dead outside her home on Jan. 13, 2018. After an investigation, Kathleen West’s husband, Jeff West, was charged in her death.
The trial began Tuesday in Shelby County. During opening statements, prosecutor Daniel McBrayer maintained that Jeff West murdered his wife, also known as “Kat,” by striking her on the head with a liquor bottle.
However, Jeff West’s attorney Josh Charles Robbins argued Kat West drunkenly fell and hit her head the night she died. So far, the trial has consisted of witness testimony from the women who found her body and called 911, as well as bodycam footage from first responders who processed the crime scene.
Day 3 of trial:
On Thursday, jurors listened to 90 minutes worth of an interview with Jeff West, conducted by Sgt. Mike Mehlhoff, a Calera police officer. In that interview, he told police he went to bed at around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2018, the night before his wife’s body was discovered.
Evidence was presented to the jury that contradicted Jeff West’s story. He had given police consent to retrieve data from both his and his wife’s cell phones. Data taken from the iPhone Health app show Jeff West took 18 steps between 11:03 p.m. and 11:10 p.m.
He told police he and his wife had an enjoyable date night on Jan. 12, 2018. The two went to dinner, stopped at the liquor store and a Publix, then went home and had a few drinks together. He told police he went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and stayed in bed until his dog’s barking woke him up at around 5 a.m. He said it was at that point he saw police vehicles on his street and his wife’s body.
A large portion of the police interview was about the social media accounts Kat West operated, through which she shared provocative photos of herself for a subscription fee. Jeff West told officers his wife’s accounts didn’t bother him and that they provided a way for her to make money. He said he would take photos of her for her to sell on the sites.
Kat West was found dead, wearing nothing but a bra. Police asked Jeff West what his wife was wearing before he went to bed. He said she was wearing a bra, underwear, and high heels. He also said it was normal for his wife to walk around the house dressed in those items.
Investigators pressed him on if his wife’s photos bothered him. He said he felt secure in their marriage. When asked if the couple fought, Jeff West said they fought about normal things, like his wife’s drinking.
Later in the conversation, Jeff West said he was not as sexual as his wife and maybe that was why she was unhappy. He said his wife liked to have sex four to five times a week and that he bought her sex toys to relieve sexual tension. Jeff told officers his wife had talked to him about meeting with other women in Calera.
” I would not hurt my wife, not even accidentally. I would not hurt my wife,” West had said to the officers interviewing him.
Text from Dec. 20, 2018:
Jeff West: “I love you”
Kat West: “I adore you xxx”
Kat West: “NEVER DOING THIS HOLIDAY AGAIN W/ YOU.”
Kat West: “YOU HAVE TO WANT TO BE WITH ME. I LOVE YOU. YOU DON’T LOVE ME.”
Kat then sent several provocative photos of herself wearing lingerie. She texted her husband, “Thank you for making me feel sexy. I love you 4L.”
Jeff responded to this message saying, “Baby I love you and I want you, you mean the world to me.”
Texts from Jan. 4, 2018:
Kat West: “I know you’re scared to tell me you don’t want to be with me, it’s only hurting me more by lying. If you don’t want me, then say it. I am sorry. I’m thankful for all the years I’ve had with you.”
Jeff West: “Baby I want you. Do you want me? We never really talked after NYE.”
Kat West: “Yes baby I want you.”
Jeff West: “Baby I want you. You and me for life.”
The defense presented more texts from Jan. 4, 2018 that show the couple exchanging flirtatious messages, saying “I love you” to each other repeatedly.
Texts from Jan. 10, 2018:
Jeff West: “I’m on my way sexy momma. Need anything”
Kat West: “Cum here”
Jeff West: “I am smoking a cigarette.”
Kat West: “Guess ur back downstairs. Night.”
Jeff West: “I am not doing this. I am looking forward to hanging out with you.”
Jeff West: “You’re letting that sh*t you talked to me about f*ck with you. I haven’t done sh*t but wait for you.”
On Jan. 12, 2018 the couple exchanged messages, flirting and complimenting one another. Kat West also sent her husband several provocative photos of herself.
Data retrieved from Kat West’s cell phone show the last movements her phone tracked before her death. She took 87 steps between 10:45 p.m. and 10:54 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2018.
ADT security data show the front door to the couple’s home was opened and closed at 10:53 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2018. The door was then opened again at 1:51 a.m. early that next morning and was left open until 5:12 a.m.
West’s attorney John Robbins said that the recorded data is from when Kat West wandered out of the house. The prosecution argued that the data tells a different story.
During the defense’s turn to introduce text message evidence, they presented exchanges that show the couple flirting with each other.
Hannah Payne, a forensic scientist with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences tested several items from the crime scene and Jeff West’s home for blood. A shirt from a clothing hamper, a towel from the master bathroom, and a swab taken from the bottle of absinthe were all confirmed DNA matches for Kat West’s blood. Payne said there is no technology available to date when a bloodstain was created.
A vaginal swab was taken from Kat West. Payne said semen was detected in that swab, but because of a low sperm count, she was unable to match the sample with other DNA.
One of the last witnesses to take the stand on Thursday was Steven Payne, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency print examiner. Payne said a thumbprint found on the bottle of absinthe found at the scene was confirmed to belong to Jeff. The print was placed just below the neck of the bottle, pointed downwards. This information is indicative of how the bottle was held when that print was transferred to the bottle.
The trial will resume Friday at 8:30 a.m. The state is expected to call the medical examiner to the stand as their final witness. Then the team will proceed to make their case. Jeff’s attorney said he plans to call Kat’s mother to the stand.