An Alabama man was sentenced to 16 years behind bars after being convicted of manslaughter in the 2018 death of his cam girl wife, whose partially clothed body was found outside the couple’s home.
Jeff West struck his wife, Kathleen Dawn West, in the head with a liquor bottle then left her body in the street, according to a statement from the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announcing his sentence Monday.
“We’re pleased with the jury’s verdict and opportunity to bring justice for Ms. West and the citizens of Shelby County,” Assistant District Attorney Daniel McBrayer said.
West has continued to maintain his innocence, insisting that his wife—who ran subscription-only website under the name “Kit Kat West”—died after she fell during a night of heavy drinking. Her blood alcohol level had been three times the legal limit, WIAT reports.
Before his sentence was handed down Monday, West addressed the court to discuss all the things he had missed out on in the last three years while in jail awaiting trial. While he mentioned losing his “best friend,” he never mentioned his wife by her name or specifically referenced her death, AL.com reports.
“It struck me that he mentioned very little other than himself,’' McBrayer later told the outlet.
West had been facing a maximum possible sentence of 20 years; however, Shelby County Judge William Bostick III said he took Jeff’s military experience, his lack of criminal record, strong ties to the community and support from Kat West’s own family into consideration when determining the sentence.
“Our laws (are) designed to punish people not for who they are but for what they do. In this case, the jury found you to be responsible for your wife’s death. They imposed that responsibility on you,” Bostick said. “You were afforded the opportunity to accept responsibility for causing your wife’s death. You have, for your own reasons, taken the position that you don’t intend to do that. So, the jury had to do that for you.”
West’s attorney John Robbins said although he appreciated that his client did not get the full maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars, he believed it was a case where “probation would have been appropriate, especially after serving almost three years on this so far.”
West will get credit for time already served. His attorney plans to appeal the verdict.
The couple’s 15-year-old daughter Logan had also asked for leniency, telling the judge she had grown up in a loving home.
“He has always been my shield against the world,” she said of her father. “Please give me my father back as soon as possible.”
Kat’s mother Nancy Martin also testified on behalf of her son-in-law, describing him as a “good man.”
“He has always been a kind and caring person,” she said.
She said the family had been shocked to learn of the allegations against him.
“We’ve lost a daughter, Logan West lost her mother and she does not need to lose her father,” Martin said according to WIAT. “We’re hoping for leniency in the sentencing.”
Kat was found dead, wearing only a sports bra, across the street from the couple’s home on Jan. 13, 2018. She was discovered around 5 a.m. by a 19-year-old neighbor who was on her way to work, AL.com reports.
Kat’s cell phone was found nearby with a green bottle of absinthe on top of it. Some witnesses reportedly told police they thought the items looked staged.
Prosecutors said the couple had gone out on a date the night before her body was discovered and stopped at a liquor store on the way home to buy drinks.
McBrayer said at some point an argument between the pair erupted prompted by Kat's frequent use of social media.
“He is tired and fed up with this Instagram stuff,” he said, according to AL.com. “He grabs her phone and chunks it out the front door where it lands on the street.” McBrayer said the phone had been cracked when it was discovered.
Prosecutors believe that when Kat went to retrieve the phone, wearing only her sports bra, West grabbed a green absinthe bottle and delivered the fatal blow to her head. McBrayer said West then placed the bottle—which was later found to have his fingerprints—on top of the cell phone and went back inside to wait until her body was found.
Robbins insisted, however, that Kat had simply fallen and hit her head, causing the fatal injury.
He also told jurors during the trial that West had told friends that when his wife was drinking she liked to roam around outside, sometimes jumping on a trampoline or performing cheerleading jumps off utility boxes, local station WBRC reports.
West told investigators that the night before his wife was found dead he had fallen asleep around 10:30 p.m. while his wife stayed awake drinking. He said he didn’t wake up until hours later when he saw police cars outside his home.
A state medical examiner testified in court that the wound to her head was too significant to have likely been caused by a fall.
“It was a considerable amount of force to cause an injury like that,” pathologist Dr. Stephen Boudreau testified.
Both sides also relied on text messages that appeared to show both loving and angry messages between the pair.
In one message Kat wrote to Jeff “Show me now, or it’s goodbye. No more games. I’M NEVER DOING THIS HOLIDAY AGAIN WITH YOU.” In another she wrote, “You’re throwing away 14 years of marriage. That’s what I meant to you??”
But other messages between the pair appeared to be loving and utilized a code the couple used to mean “I love you for life.”
West told authorities that the couple had normal arguments, but nothing out of the ordinary.
He opted not to take the stand in his defense.
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