BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Before attorneys present opening statements Tuesday in the murder trial of Tehachapi woman Wendy Howard, her supporters will hold a press conference outside the courthouse asking prosecutors to drop charges.
A group calling itself the Wendy Howard Defense Committee has repeatedly called for the case to be dropped, arguing Howard acted in self-defense. Supporters say Howard and her daughters had been abused by her ex, Kelly Rees Pitts, whom she shot him outside her home on June 5, 2019.
The press conference is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Opening statements are expected to begin around 10:30 a.m.
Howard is charged with first-degree murder and faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life behind bars if convicted.
One of Howard’s daughters, Bayley Frost, has said Pitts sexually abused her. She doesn’t want to relive what happened in the courtroom.
“I feel awful and embarrassed to describe what happened in front of 12 random people, family, friends, and supporters,” Frost said in a news release. “I don’t want to remember it.”
Committee member Courtney Morris said in the release Howard poses no threat and is a loving mother and grandmother.
“Trying this case is extremely traumatizing for Wendy and her daughters, who have to relive incredibly painful experiences,” Morris said.
Last week, Judge Charles R. Brehmer cautioned Howard to obey the gag order which bars her, attorneys, investigators and others from speaking about the case. He said her supporters are to have no contact with the jury.
Howard has said she shot Pitts, 57, during an argument outside her Tehachapi home in which she confronted him over the alleged sexual abuse. She said Pitts ran over her foot with his quad and, fearing for her life, she pulled a gun and shot him multiple times, according to court documents.
Pitts suffered gunshot wounds to his upper chest and neck and a bullet graze to his cheek. Asked why she didn’t back away after firing the first shot, Howard said she thought she should stand her ground, reports say.