BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Following Wendy Howard’s 2019 arrest, her supporters have posted on social media, protested outside the courthouse and issued news releases calling for the case to be dismissed.
On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Charles R. Brehmer cautioned Howard not to comment on social media or otherwise violate a gag order that was issued three years ago and bars her, attorneys, investigators and others connected to the case from speaking about it.
He said he’s trying to ensure Howard receive a fair trial and maintain the integrity of the proceedings.
“Trials are sacrosanct,” Brehmer said before asking Howard if she understood. She said she did.
The judge referred to recent social media posts about Howard’s case and, telling her not to tell him whether she was involved with them, said they don’t help her and there could be unforeseen consequences. He also said her supporters are not to interact at all with jurors.
Howard’s trial is expected to begin next week. Brehmer said a jury could be picked as early as Friday.
On June 5, 2019, Howard fatally shot her ex, Kelly Rees Pitts, during an argument outside her Tehachapi home in which she confronted him over his alleged molestation of her teenage daughter, according to her statement contained in police reports. She said Pitts ran over her foot with his quad and she pulled a gun and shot him multiple times.
Howard told police she felt threatened.
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.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Brehmer confirmed records had been subpoenaed from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Tehachapi Police Department, Kern Medical, Hall Ambulance and Ventura Police Department.
Howard’s attorney, Tony Lidgett, noting Pitts’ prior arrests, said he hopes the District Attorney’s office has thoroughly looked into whether there are other alleged victims of violence. Prosecutor Eric Smith responded Pitts has “never been convicted of any of these crimes” and said his office has turned over multiple reports from Ventura County to the defense.
Jury selection begins Wednesday.