Wendy Howard verdict.jpg

Wendy Howard stands outside Kern County Superior Court following a reading of the verdict in Howard's murder trial on Oct. 21. A Kern County jury found Howard not guilty of first- and second-degree murder as well as involuntary manslaughter but deadlocked on a decision regarding voluntary manslaughter.

A Tehachapi woman who pleaded no contest under what’s called an Alford plea in the shooting death of her ex-partner was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation, plus time served, potentially ending a nearly four-year ordeal that brought domestic violence activists and national attention to Kern County.

Prosecutors had accused Wendy Howard, 54, of killing Kelly Pitts, 59, in an angry act of vigilantism after she was told he sexually assaulted her children. But defense attorney Tony Lidgett called the 2019 shooting self-defense in light of Pitts’ reported attempt to rape and beat Howard with a baseball bat when she was pregnant with Pitts’ child.