BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Both sides rested Tuesday in the murder trial of Wendy Howard, who finished two days of testimony regarding the events leading to the deadly shooting of an ex-boyfriend who molested their daughter.
Howard gave a series of vague answers Tuesday morning as a prosecutor asked her to explain step-by-step her actions when she shot the ex three years ago.
One of those answers somewhat changed the complexion of the events that occurred outside her Tehachapi home. Howard has previously said the ex hit her foot with an ATV as he attempted to run her over but now says she isn’t certain the vehicle touched her.
She testified she felt pain in her foot. She expressed uncertainty over much of what happened that day.
“There’s a lot of things that I can’t tell you,” Howard said. “I can just piece it together the best I can, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
She repeatedly said she feared for her life and the trauma of the event has impacted her memory of it.
Howard, 53, has testified she shot her ex, Kelly Rees Pitts, the afternoon of June 5, 2019, after confronting him with a photo showing him molesting their teenage daughter. She said Pitts yelled and swore and came at her on the ATV when she shot him.
Pitts, 57, died later that day from multiple gunshot wounds.
Howard is charged with first-degree murder and faces up to 50 years to life if convicted.
The prosecution earlier in the trial called crime scene analysts who testified the evidence indicates Pitts wasn’t facing Howard when the shots were fired, and Smith has displayed messages Howard sent in the days and even hours before the shooting expressing her anger. One message mentioned “vengeance.”
Smith on Tuesday asked Howard about the emotions she felt, the anger, as she approached Pitts. Howard denied being especially angry and said she was more anxious because she had been told to act naturally around Pitts as police conducted an investigation into the molestation, which she and her daughters reported three days earlier.
Howard on multiple occasions provided lengthy responses that didn’t address Smith’s questions. The prosecutor, and on one occasion Judge Charles R. Brehmer, told her to only answer the questions asked and not give unrelated details.
On several occasions there were lengthy pauses before she answered, and she appeared far more hesitant than on Monday when questioned by her attorney, Tony Lidgett.
Before confronting Pitts, Howard shoved a handgun in her back waistband. Smith implied she went up to Pitts with the intention of killing him.
“You had a gun in your waistband,” the prosecutor said. “You knew what was going to happen.”
Howard responded, “I did not know that Kelly was going to attempt to run me over.”
Smith kept referring to the interview Howard gave police the day of the shooting to attempt to illustrate her thoughts at the time.
Howard testified she didn’t know if she said anything after firing the gun, but when Smith pointed out her comments during the interview she acknowledged she may have said, “You’re a (expletive) child molester.”
17 News is live-tweeting the trial at #WendyHoward.
Closing arguments will be held Wednesday, the 10th day of trial.