BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Wendy Howard, the Tehachapi woman charged with killing her ex-boyfriend back in 2019, appeared in Kern County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Howard told 23ABC in an interview in 2019 that her biggest regret was trusting her ex-boyfriend. Tuesday’s opening statements by both sides highlight how heavy these words were as they detailed the behavior that led to the day of the shooting.
In a phone call played during court, Howard can be heard saying her ex-boyfriend Kelly Rees Pitts was trying to run her over and that she shot him. This part is a key piece in her claim of self-defense.
Pitts had also allegedly sexually abused her older daughter, Miranda Frost, years prior. Frost did report the abuse to the authorities, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office detectives even sent it to the District Attorney’s Office. The report was ultimately rejected and no charges were ever filed against Pitts.
Howard told police she initially separated from Pitts due to physical and verbal abuse, which her lawyer detailed in the opening statement for the defense.
During the three days between the initial report to the Tehachapi Police and the day of the shooting, the police were investigating. During opening statements, prosecutors used social media messages between Howard and her then-boyfriend, claiming she insinuated to him that she did not believe police will be able to build a case.
In messages with her daughter, Howard also said she needed to take care of it, and at some point, said she is locked and loaded. The messages are a key piece in the prosecution’s case against Howard.
Inside the court and during recesses, Howard was accompanied by a group of supporters who have been advocating for her to be released from all charges. Those supporters, joined by the Howard family, had a rally on Tuesday morning before the trial began.
Howard’s daughter Baylee, who is also at the center of this case, spoke with 23ABC about her feelings going into trial.
“It is always looming over my head,” Baylee said.
Neither Howard, her lawyers, nor the District Attorney’s Office are allowed to comment on the case due to a gag order imposed by the judge, but one key disagreement between prosecutors and the defense is whether Howard was facing Pitts when she shot him. Each side will present their cases to the jury who will decide in a trial that is expected to last through the end of October.
23ABC will continue to follow the case and provide updates as new information becomes available.