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Wyoming woman, 75, convicted of 2nd-degree murder



CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A 75-year-old Missouri woman accused of shooting her husband in Wyoming almost 40 years ago was found guilty of second-degree murder Thursday in a case that hinged on whether jurors believed her claim she was defending their 2-year-old daughter.

Alice Uden faces 20 years to life in prison after being convicted of the lesser charge. The jury found her not guilty of first-degree murder, which would have carried a life sentence.

"We are pleased with the verdict," Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar said. "The jury made it clear that they believe she at least purposely and maliciously killed the victim in this matter."

Sentencing will be scheduled later.

Investigators recovered Ronald Holtz's remains of last summer from an abandoned mine shaft on a small cattle ranch between Cheyenne and Laramie. The discovery led to the September arrest of Uden, who was his wife at the time, and her current husband, who was charged separately with killing his wife and two children.

Police have never linked the two cold cases that brought the pair who were quietly living out their senior years in the rural Ozarks near Springfield, Mo., to Wyoming to face criminal charges. Prosecutors could not mention the husband's case during the trial.

Uden, of Chadwick, Missouri, testified she shot Holtz in the back of the head sometime in late 1974 or early 1975, just as he was about to attack her 2-year-old daughter in her crib. But prosecutors said Uden shot Holtz while he was asleep, and they played audio and video recordings of her interviews with police to show jurors her story had changed.

Uden testified that after she shot Holtz, she emptied Christmas decorations out of a 55-gallon cardboard barrel and stuffed Holtz's 175-pound body inside. She rolled the barrel onto the trailer porch and into her car trunk. She said she drove the barrel to the Remount Ranch, where she and her second husband were caretakers before he died in 1973.

Her trial 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 was married to Holtz, her third husband, for only a month or two. A nurse, she had met the 24-year-old Vietnam veteran while working in the psychiatric unit of a Veterans Administration hospital in Sheridan.

Hospital records cited at Uden's trial show Holtz had a long history of violent outbursts and drug use, and had checked himself into VA facilities 13 times over the previous four years.

"He was extremely violent, unpredictable and impulsive," her attorney, Donald Miller, said in his closing argument Tuesday.

Uden said Holtz became abusive soon after they married in September 1974. She said Holtz had a job driving a taxi at night and, one morning, he flew into a rage when Uden's toddler daughter began crying when he was trying to sleep.

Uden testified Holtz knocked her down while storming toward 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 above the toddler's crib.

Prosecutors argued Holtz was asleep when Uden shot him in the back of the head.

"The fun was over," Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar said in his closing argument. "The fling she had started was no longer a good time for her. And Mr. Holtz maybe wasn't the man she thought he was."

He said Uden kept changing her story when investigators interviewed her. She also told investigators she got the gun from a bedroom closet much farther from the crib - and much less readily available in the urgent situation.

Homar said in his closing argument that where she got the rifle didn't even matter much because there was no scenario in which she could have acted quickly enough to stop Holtz.

"Her story is impossible," he said.

In the other case, Gerald Uden, 71, has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-wife, 32-year-old Virginia Uden, and her two sons in central Wyoming in 1980.

It's unclear when Alice and Gerald Uden met, but she testified she married him in November 1976. That's five months after Gerald separated from Virginia Uden.

While entering his plea in November, Gerald Uden was vague about his motive but said Virginia Uden had become "intolerable."

"Virginia did her very best to split Alice and me apart," he said in court. "She used the boys to do that."

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rcprn May 08 2014 at 7:25 PM

Sad story. This happened 40 years ago. Vietnam vets often received the poorest or NO care for PTSD. Women who were brutalized often had nowhere to turn. Often, the authorities considered domestic violence a "private family matter." It IS possible that if she reported the child abuse, the husband would have gone to jail, but what would happen once he was released, knowing that she blew the whistle? She may have ended up in the old mine where he was found. A tragedy for everyone. She looks careworn & possibly confused. Compare her physical appearance with a healthy, middle or upper-class 75 yea-old with good healthcare, adequate nutrition and decent periods of rest. I am not being facetious when I say perhaps going to jail will be the best thing that has happened to her in a long time - a safe environment, 3 square meals a day, adequate heat, no need to worry if she can pay the bills, accessible healthcare & time to reflect on her actions, an opportunity for repentance & resolution.

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3 replies
auctionsurplus May 08 2014 at 8:45 PM

40 years ago. She is 90 now. Is there a liklihood she would repeat her crime? I doubt it. What purpose does it do to incarcerate her, with tax dollars? Home confinement. Ankle monitor. Probation.

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1 reply
kentuckycowby auctionsurplus May 12 2014 at 11:12 AM

Once a murderer, always a murderer. She got everything from the one she killed. She probably lived off of a free check and food stamps all her life in the free house and vehicles that she got from the man she killed. Send her a** to hell where she belongs.

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Hello, Mary May 08 2014 at 8:45 PM

My God, she looks 95!!! What her son said to her was instrumental in her conviction.

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crrunch May 08 2014 at 9:01 PM

There's been several' older people convicted lately- murder, drug mule, etc. They didn't get that old by being that stupid. Just because they're up in years doesn't mean they don't pay the penalty - they knew there was a possibility, played the odds, and lost. I feel for 'em, but you can't have a group (other than those in politics, of course) thinking they're above a sentence because of their age.

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suncruzma May 08 2014 at 9:01 PM

You should be you know she will die in prison.. why is it no one ever believes a woman was protecting a child from a pervit

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6 replies
cigarpal May 08 2014 at 9:07 PM

What a CROC.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
quincy_maxwell May 08 2014 at 9:12 PM

I bet the Texan lawmakers are cringing and kicking the dirt because they didn't get this case to have the chance to bump this old woman off.

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waz up lou May 08 2014 at 9:13 PM

He deserved to be killed TWICE!...LET HER GO!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Jean Karpinski May 08 2014 at 9:15 PM

LET HER GO HOME AND PASS AWAY WITH IN HER OWN HOME PLEASE GOD WATCH OVER THIS LADY AND HELP HER AMEN

Flag Reply +4 rate up
dan_crabtree May 08 2014 at 9:16 PM

And what is to be gained from this?..."justice"...at her age not hardly...and to saddle the taxpayers with yet another mouth to feed and clothe and nurse in her final years ...whats the point?

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1 reply
nonamenocity dan_crabtree May 08 2014 at 9:45 PM

The point? Finally justice is served. She got away with murder and lived a free life for 40 years. At least she will die in prison. And if someone you loved was killed 40 years ago, and they just now found the killer, would you say, "Oh, well, no big deal. That was so long ago."? I think not.

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