COLUMBIANA, Ala. – A former police officer charged with murder in the death of his exhibitionist wife pleaded not guilty Monday, and the victim's mother tearfully said she believes him.
William Jeffrey West, 44, entered the plea during a hearing in Shelby County, Alabama, where he is charged in the death of 42-year-old Kathleen Dawn West.
West, a suburban mom with a resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, posted racy photos online and had a site where subscribers could pay to see sexier content. Her partially clothed body was found outside their suburban home in January.
Prosecutors told a judge that West died of a blow to the head from a liquor bottle, and they said both her blood and her husband's fingerprints were on the bottle.
"We have a very strong case," said Roger Hepburn, an assistant district attorney.
But a defense lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on West's behalf, and Kathleen West's mother, Nancy Martin, told reporters outside court that she and her husband trust their son-in-law "with our whole heart."
Speaking through tears as she sat on a hallway bench beside West's mother, Martin said her daughter was an alcoholic who had a history of binge-drinking and took medication for bipolar disorder. West loved her deeply, said Martin, who testified on West's behalf during a bond hearing.
"He's a good man and he didn't do this," Martin said. She said she and her husband are caring for the couple's 13-year-old daughter, and that West stayed with them for about four weeks during the investigation before his arrest.
West, a veteran who worked with military police while in the service, was promoted to corporal with the police force at Birmingham-Southern College before his wife's death, evidence showed.
West's mother, Carolyn West, said her daughter-in-law drank to get "rip-roaring drunk" and had been known both to go outside without clothes and to fall.
Both women agreed West was likely highly intoxicated the night of her death and suffered a fatal injury in a fall.
"He took her out to dinner, he had a couple of drinks. He went to bed and went to sleep. Kat kept drinking because Kat was an alcoholic," West said.
Prosecutors did not reveal whether autopsy results showed the woman was intoxicated when she died.
Circuit Judge Bill Bostick refused a defense request to reduce West's $500,000 bond, ruling that he could be a flight risk and a danger to the community.