BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A group advocating on behalf of accused murderer Wendy Howard is calling on the District Attorney’s office to drop its case, arguing she “and her daughters were physically, sexually, and verbally abused” by her former partner, the man she killed.
In a release sent Monday, the group Justice For Wendy said Howard is an abuse survivor who shot Kelly Reese Pitts in self-defense outside her Tehachapi home.
Howard is charged with first-degree murder and faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted.
“DA [Cynthia] Zimmer claims that she protects victims of physical and sexual abuse, yet she is prosecuting Howard for defending herself and her family,” a news release said. “Furthermore, DA Zimmer has failed to offer Wendy’s daughters support services for surviving their own abuse.”
A DA’s spokesman on Monday said they had no comment. There is a gag order in place limiting what attorneys can say about the case.
Howard told police she shot Pitts, 57, on June 5, 2019, during an argument in which she confronted him about his alleged molestation of her teenage daughter, according to court documents. During the argument, Pitts drove his quad toward her and ran over her foot, she said in the documents. She said she felt threatened, and pulled a handgun from her waistband and shot him.
Police note in the documents that Howard fired multiple times. She told investigators she believed she should stand her ground. Pitts suffered gunshot wounds to his upper chest and neck and a bullet graze to his cheek.
Howard said Pitts had previously been charged with seven felonies in Ventura County for allegedly trying to rape and kill her, but charges were dismissed.
In 2006, Howard filed a restraining order against Pitts in which she alleged he abused her. The order, to remain in effect five years, was granted, with the court finding “acts of violence have occurred,” according to the document.
Howard’s trial is expected to begin soon. A courtroom could be assigned Tuesday.