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Wendy Howard trial goes to the jury as closing arguments end Wednesday

Closing arguments in the trial of Wendy Howard, the Tehachapi woman who killed her ex-boyfriend Kelly Rees Pitts, ended Wednesday.
Wendy Howard Trial
Posted at 5:46 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 23:07:37-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The question before jurors now in the trial of Wendy Howard, the Tehachapi woman who shot her ex-boyfriend Kelly Pitts to death in 2019 is whether she shot him in self defense or if it was murder. Closing arguments in the trial have ended and the jury is now deliberating.

After two weeks of testimony, with the defense arguing that Howard was justified in killing Pitts while the prosecution said she did not, closing arguments concluded Wednesday. It is now up to the jury, and if they find her guilty, she could be facing 25 years to life in prison.

Prosecutor Eric Smith put the question simply in the trial of Wendy Howard, who admitted to having killed her ex-boyfriend.

“Is it self-defense or is it homicide? That’s why we’re here,” said Smith.

Weeks of testimony revealed that Kelly Pitts not only molested Howard’s daughter Miranda Frost, but also Baylee Pitts, the daughter Pitts and Howard had together.

“At no point in this trial have I said Kelly Pitts is not a child molester,” said Smith. “He was. Absolutely, 100 percent, unequivocal.”

The prosecution began its closing arguments by acknowledging the harm Pitts caused the family, but says he should not have died.

“Where should Kelly Pitts be right now? He should be in prison,” Smith said. “He should be in a 6 foot by 8 foot cell. That’s where he should be right now. He should not be dead.”

Defense attorney Tony Lidgett, on the other hand, says that law enforcement did not do their jobs the first time.

“Kelly Pitts should be in prison, not dead,” said Lidgett. “Do your job when it comes to Miranda. Do your job! Put him away then. You had your opportunities. Put him away!”

Lidgett continued by referencing the testimony of Miranda Frost, Baylee Pitts, and Kara Clegg, who all say Pitts abused them, and that Howard knew about the abuse when she shot Pitts three times. Lidgett also pointed to Howard’s testimony that Pitts also abused her.

“Is the guy a monster? You guys are parents,” Lidgett asked the jury. “ Is he doing something you would never do? And if a person is capable of doing everything that he has done … Yeah, I think self-defense is justified.”

Lidgett also played a tape of Howard from that day where she says she was afraid of Pitts and that he had harmed her before.

Supporters of Wendy Howard gathered outside of the courthouse while closing arguments were happening. Wendy Howard Defense Committee organizer Courtney Morris and others say Howard is a survivor of domestic violence.

“They failed to convict a predator and now they are attempting to convict a victim,” said Morris. “We say no!”

The final words of closing arguments fell to prosecutor Eric Smith, who said that Howard does not have the right to self-defense and that this case is not about how likable Howard is compared to Pitts, but about her intent when she shot him.

“We’re not sitting here weighing who do I like more and who do I like less,” said Smith. “The question is did she kill him that day, and did she act in lawful self-defense. That’s the question.”

The prosecution also pointed out that Pitts did not have any weapons on him the day Howard shot him. The defense counters this by saying Pitts himself is a weapon, as he’s hurt Howard before with his hands.

Stay connected to 23ABC on the air and online for the latest details when jurors reach a verdict.