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Woman, 75, testifies at her Wyoming murder trial

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A 75-year-old Missouri woman on trial in Wyoming testified Tuesday she shot her husband almost 40 years ago in a desperate effort to protect her toddler daughter from abuse by a habitually violent man, while prosecutors pointed out inconsistencies in her account from one telling to the next.

Alice Uden, of Chadwick, Missouri, is charged with first-degree murder in Ronald Holtz's death in late 1974 or early 1975.

Her trial has featured emotional testimony from one of her sons, who said last week that Uden told him in the 1970s that she killed Holtz as he slept. At one point during his testimony, Todd Scott turned to his frail mother seated in a wheelchair and said: "I hate you."

Uden had been married to Holtz for only a month or two. A nurse, she met the 24-year-old Vietnam veteran while working in the psychiatric unit of a Veterans Administration hospital.

Prosecutors argue Holtz was asleep when Uden shot him in the back of the head at their Cheyenne trailer home.

Uden's attorneys say her daughter was moments from being attacked by Holtz when Uden saved her. They say Holtz had a long history of violent outbursts and drug use and became abusive soon after they married.

Holtz had a job driving a taxi at night, Uden said, and flew into a rage when Uden's 2-year-old daughter began crying one morning while he was trying to sleep.

Uden testified Holtz knocked down Uden and stormed into the girl's bedroom. Uden said she grabbed her .22-caliber rifle from a broom closet and shot Holtz in the back of the head, from a couple feet away, as he stood at the crib.

But Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar said Uden had changed her story. He said she previously told investigators she got the gun from a bedroom closet much farther from the crib - and much less readily available in the urgent situation.

"That's not the way it happened," Uden testified in court. "I didn't go to that closet."

Homar also asked Uden about a different version of events she told a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent in a September interview in Christian County, Missouri.

"You spontaneously, without being asked, said, 'I was terrified I was him, I was afraid of him, I shot him while he was sleeping?'" Homar said.

"I don't remember," Uden said.

Holtz was Uden's third husband. Investigators recovered his remains last summer from an abandoned mine shaft on a small cattle ranch between Cheyenne and Laramie.

Scott, one of Uden's sons by her first marriage, testified he has been telling police for years that his mother once told him she'd shot Holtz as he slept. He said her words haunted him. Three previous attempts by investigators to find Holtz's remains in the mine, starting in 1989, turned up no more than the bones of dead livestock and pets dumped there over the years.

Scott told jurors last week that the murder trial was the first time he'd seen Uden in 20 years.

Police arrested Alice Uden and her fourth and current Gerald Uden, 71, in Missouri in September. Gerald Uden has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murders for shooting his ex-wife and her two children in central Wyoming in 1980.

Prosecutors haven't linked the cases, and neither Gerald Uden nor his case has been mentioned at Alice Uden's trial.

Alice Uden's four oldest children, including Scott, were living with their father in Illinois at the time of Holtz's death. Uden testified that after she shot Holtz, she drove to the Denver area and left her youngest with her in-laws.

She then drove back to Cheyenne, emptied Christmas decorations out of a 55-gallon cardboard barrel and stuffed Holtz's 175-pound body inside, she said. She rolled the barrel onto the trailer porch and into her car trunk.

Alice Uden said she tied down the trunk and drove the barrel to the Remount Ranch, where she and second husband Donald Prunty were caretakers before Prunty died in 1973.

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Gracie GirL May 07 2014 at 10:12 AM

It's hard to take sides. The son hates her but doesn't know the fear she may have been living under at the time. Yes, she should have fled the marriage but back in the 1970's Domstic Violence laws were not in place as they have been since the 1990's. Police often were called and just tried to diffuse or calm the angry or drunk, spouse down and didn't arrest any one. The Domestic violence laws Started after a few women were killed after police left the scene and didn't arrest either spouse. Now no matter what some one gets arrested, some times both spouses and you hear less about abuse. These arrests with Domestic Violence Charges have made a Impact I believe on domestic abuse. This woman lived in the 1970's under old laws. If others could corroborate her story about her thn husbands violent tendencies it might help her case.

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bkbwatt May 07 2014 at 9:58 AM

Justice has to be served, but this story is so confusing and old what is the point.
She wll get hers in the end and everyone involved will too. The justice system should consentrate on something more current. Sad to say.

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trifeloco2012 May 07 2014 at 9:50 AM

I know it's easier said than done, but why remain with anyone at all after they clearly display anger problems a violent nature, or hostility? Only to then smoke the person? She should have left him after the first red flag...

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1 reply
emmiesauntp trifeloco2012 May 07 2014 at 10:02 AM

It's clear you have no idea what it is like. Good for you though, because it is hell.

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1 reply
trifeloco2012 emmiesauntp May 07 2014 at 10:13 AM

Sucks to be you emmiesauntp. In the eyes of the law, it really doesn't matter how terrrible the circumstances are regardless, resorting to murder is not the answer.


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arc23con May 07 2014 at 8:34 AM

They both shot their spouses? What nice people.

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GUNSLINGER May 07 2014 at 8:22 AM

Execute now, before she breeds again!!!!

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MICHAEL May 07 2014 at 10:06 AM

i dont believe the son. why would a mother tell her son she shot the father in his sleep? i think the son is lying. he already hates her of his own admission, why not lie? i believe she killed him, and if he's the scum she said he was, who cares? she obviously killed him for a reason, no one just up and shoots somebody for no reason. and what reason would she have to lie about how it happened, she already admitted to the deed.

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patriot1too May 07 2014 at 6:38 AM

As we all now know women commit 97% of all domestic violence and yet play victim 1oo% of the time. There s not even one battered mans shelter in America for a man or a father to seek a safehaven for himself and his child from an abusive wife or girlfriend. That is awful and must change.

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4 replies
aliosh May 07 2014 at 10:30 AM

What a strange, strange world we live in...

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daniel.garcia77 May 07 2014 at 9:07 AM

People are missing the important part. A man was murdered! Whether he stood or slept, shot in back of the head. Cold blood! What about his family? How have they felt for 40 years, 480 months, 2,080 Sundays(Mon, Tue, Wed...), 14,600 days? And all we talk about is grammatical errors, and the penal system. A man was murdered in cold blood, his body was dumped; I can't even go on...

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smcopeci May 07 2014 at 10:01 AM

If she was married other times and never killed any of those husbands, I'm thinking that this one must have been abusive like she said. As far as her stories go she is in her 70's so that could be part of the differences. She has gone thru enough just let you go on with her life.

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