BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Wendy Howard, the Tehachapi woman accused of killing her ex-boyfriend Kelly Rees in 2019 is set to face a jury on Tuesday, October 4th. The prosecution says it’s murderer, but Howard’s supporters believe she killed Rees in self-defense.
Courtney Morris, organizer of the Wendy Howard Defense Committee, says she can empathize with Howard’s situation.
“I think it’s a really painful experience to watch, you know? I really feel like Wendy could be any one of us,” said Morris. “If i had to choose between my life and someone else’s, I know what my answer would be.”
Morris adds that she believes when district attorneys charge women for defending themselves, they are further contributing to an abuse-to-prison pipeline and further traumatizing the victim.
In 2019, Howard was released on bail. At the time, her family told 23ABC that the judge said it was because he saw evidence for a justified self-defense case. Organizers with the Wendy Howard Defense Committee say they want people to recognize that evidence.
“Our responsibility is to call awareness to the injustice that Wendy faces as a survivor of domestic violence,” said Morris. “Wendy is being re-traumatized by having to go to trial, and for being charged with an extreme sentence of 50 years to life for defending her right to live.”
Morris adds that their rally Tuesday morning will be to ask the District Attorney’s office to drop the charges and free Wendy.
“We are organizing and urging the Kern County DA to drop all charges against Wendy Howard,” Morris said. “Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is this October, is the perfect time more than ever to drop all charges against Wendy in this case of self-defense.”
The goal of the Wendy Howard Defense Committee is to get the charged dropped before the opening statements so the family and Wendy’s daughter, Bailey Frost, do not have to re-live those experiences.
“She is horrified at the fact that she will have to be testifying in court and in front of strangers and talking about incredibly painful, traumatic experiences,” said Morris. “It’s just a position nobody wants to be in.”
The District Attorney’s office said it could make no comment to 23ABC about the case due to a gag order imposed by the judge.
Jury selection in the Wendy Howard case is set to finish Tuesday morning and opening statements will follow shortly after, beginning at 10:30 am at the Kern Superior Court. The Wendy Howard Defense Committee rally starts at 8:30 Tuesday morning outside the courthouse in downtown Bakersfield.