BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County jury has found Wendy Howard not guilty of murder in the shooting death of an ex-boyfriend who molested her teenage daughter, but did not reach an agreement on a voluntary manslaughter charge.

The jury on Friday initially said it was “hopelessly deadlocked” on lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter in the heat of passion and involuntary manslaughter, but then said it had not voted on the involuntary manslaughter charge. The judge sent them back to vote on that charge and they returned with a not guilty verdict.

Howard, 53, was charged with first-degree murder after she fatally wounded Kelly Rees Pitts, 57, outside her Tehachapi home. She testified she confronted Pitts about the molestation then shot him as he drove toward her on an ATV. She feared for her life when she fired, Howard told the jury.

In addition to first-degree murder, the jury could consider lesser included offenses of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter imperfect self-defense, voluntary manslaughter heat of passion and involuntary manslaughter. Ultimately, they reached verdicts of not guilty on everything except voluntary manslaughter heat of passion.

They deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of a guilty verdict on that charge.

Howard will return to court Nov. 18 for a status conference where the prosecution will announce whether it intends to retry her on the voluntary manslaughter charge.

The shooting happened June 5, 2019, on Appaloosa Court, three days after Howard learned Pitts molested daughter Bayley Frost. Pitts was the biological father of Frost.

During trial, which began Oct. 4, prosecutor Eric Smith argued evidence including text messages and Howard’s interviews with police revealed she was filled with anger and provoked Pitts before the shooting. Howard suffered no injuries in the encounter during which Pitts’ ATV “lurched forward” once at a speed witnesses estimated between 1 and 3 mph.

Pitts allegedly molested another daughter of Howard’s years prior but charges weren’t brought due to insufficient evidence. She didn’t trust police to come through this time with enough evidence for an arrest, Smith said.

Instead of waiting for detectives to complete their investigation, Howard took the law into her own hands, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Tony Lidgett has said Howard suffered horrific abuse — including a beating with a baseball bat while pregnant — from Pitts when they dated for a couple years beginning in 2003. She knew the violence he was capable of, Lidgett said.

That’s why she put a gun in her back waistband when she confronted him about the molestation of Bayley Frost, he said. She intended to defend herself if necessary — and Lidgett said it became necessary when Pitts came toward her.

Pitts got a look in his eyes Howard had previously seen when he became violent, Lidgett said.

Struck three times, Pitts, who suffered a brain injury in the shooting, stumbled around and resisted police and medical personnel who tried to restrain him. An ambulance took him to Kern Medical, where he was pronounced dead about 10 minutes later.