Wendy's Story

Wendy and her family, 2019

  Wendy Elizabeth Howard was charged by the Kern County District Attorney with first-degree murder, and an additional gun enhancement, because she defended herself and her children from an abusive ex-partner. Her trial is currently scheduled for March 14, 2022. The maximum sentence that Wendy could receive, if she is convicted, is 50 years to life.

  Wendy first met her abuser in 2002. Over a period of 17 years, the abuser, who had a previous felony record, repeatedly abused Wendy, Wendy’s children, other vulnerable women in the community and even his own children. The abuse was verbal, physical and sexual. These incidents of abuse include:

  –    He beat Wendy with a metal baseball bat while she was pregnant with their daughter. Felony charges were filed against him in Ventura County.

  –    He attempted to rape Wendy.

  –    He sexually assaulted one of Wendy’s minor daughters, touching her inappropriately, exposing his genitals to her, and trying to coerce her into watching pornography with him.

  –    He sexually assaulted a member of his own family at a party in Tehachapi, sexually abused other women in the community, and physically assaulted his own children.

  Wendy took legal action to try and stop all the abuse, but her appeals were ignored by the Kern County District Attorney and the police.

  Finally, in 2019, the abuser sexually assaulted Wendy’s minor daughter (a different daughter from the one he had previously assaulted). When Wendy discovered the assault, she immediately filed a report with the Tehachapi Police Department, which opened an investigation, but took no action. Four days later, the abuser attacked Wendy on her property while her children and grandchildren were in the house, and Wendy shot him in self-defense.

  Wendy’s story is the story of hundreds of thousands of women in the United States. According to the ACLU, 60 percent of all women in prison are survivors of domestic violence. 70 percent of the people in woman’s prisons are mothers, and 1.3 million children are affected by the imprisonment of mothers. Every year, 324,000 pregnant women are physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, and abuse often begins, or escalates, during pregnancy. Every day, three women die because of intimate partner violence.

  During Wendy’s bail hearing, the judge agreed that there was evidence of justified self-defense and lowered Wendy’s bail from $ 1 million to $ 500,000. Despite this, the Kern County District Attorney has refused to drop the charges or offer Wendy the chance to plead to a lesser sentence.

  In February 2021, the DA organized an unnecessary police raid on Wendy’s home, under the guise of searching for “evidence”, more than two years after the original shooting. Eight police cars descended on her property, intimidating and retraumatizing Wendy and her family.

  Wendy’s 7 children and 9 grandchildren all depend on her and will be devastated if she goes to prison. The District Attorney’s decision to prosecute Wendy is absurdly vindictive. Woman who are imprisoned for self-defense against an abusive partner almost never recidivate, and pose no threat to public safety at all. Wendy suffered years of abuse at the hands of a serial abuser who repeatedly assaulted children and other women in the community. She does not deserve to be punished this way.

  Self-defense is not a crime!

  Drop the charges!

  Justice for Wendy!

This website was created by Wendy’s family, her defense committee, her community in Tehachapi and across the country, and advocates and organizations working on behalf of survivors of violence.