BAKERSFIELD, Cali. (KGET) — A Superior Court judge issued a criminal protective order Thursday barring a woman charged with murder in her ex’s death from contacting six of his family members who live near where the killing occurred.
The order stipulates Wendy Howard, 50, accused of killing Kelly Rees Pitts, 57, is to have no contact with relatives of Pitts named in court Thursday morning.
Prosecutor Courtney Lewis told Judge Michael G. Bush that members of Pitts’ family, who live just down the street from Howard and her family, feel their lives could be danger if Howard is able to post bail and return home.
The protective order will last throughout the legal proceedings. Howard is currently incarcerated at the county jail and is held on $1 million bail.
If convicted of first-degree murder and a firearm enhancement, Howard faces a sentence of 50 years to life.
Howard and Pitts once had a very rocky relationship.
Howard’s attorney, Tony Lidgett, said Pitts was charged with several felony domestic violence-related crimes in Ventura County, but the case was dropped after Howard decided she no longer wanted to pursue charges.
Lidgett said the domestic violence was severe, but what finally drove Howard to end her relationship with Pitts came in 2006. That’s when her 14-year-old daughter, now an adult, told her Pitts had molested her.
A report was filed with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, but charges were never filed. Not long after, Howard was granted a domestic violence restraining order against Pitts for five years.
Howard’s family said she had no contact with Pitts and wouldn’t allow the daughter the two shared to have a relationship with him for about 10 years. But when their daughter, now 16, was 12, Howard allowed Pitts to slowly start building a father-daughter relationship with Bayley Pitts.
Bayley said everything was great between her and her father until she turned 15. That’s when Pitts allegedly began to molest her. Bayley said on June 1 her mother found an online conversation Bayley had with a friend that said some alarming things about an unnamed male.
When her mother confronted her, Bayley said she finally told her what had been going on with her father. Bayley said they filed a report with Tehachapi police that day, who told them to “play it cool” while they conducted their investigation.
Bayley said four days later, on June 5, her father asked to come over, and Howard said yes. Not long after, Howard shot him.
Pitts later died at a hospital.
Lidgett said Howard wanted to follow the investigator’s advice and not let on that anything was wrong, which is why she allowed Pitts to come over on June 5.
However, he said it brought on strong emotions for Howard as it was the first time she saw Pitts after learning about the molestation allegations. Family say that, combined with Pitts being on his quad, threatening to run Howard over, led her to pull the trigger.
Lewis said Howard shot Pitts multiple times.
A preliminary hearing is set for next month.