​Elderly Woman Sentenced to Life in 40-Year-Old Wyoming Murder Case

Forty years after she shot and killed her husband and dumped his body in an abandoned gold mine, Alice Uden is going to jail.

Uden, 75, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after she was earlier convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of her first husband, Ronald Holtz, in either 1974 or 1975.

Prosecutors had been seeking at least 20 years in prison for Uden—while her lawyers argued for probation, claiming that she had killed her allegedly abusive husband in an act of self-defense.

During the trial, investigators testified that Uden admitted to shooting the 25-year-old Holtz—who was last seen alive in Sheridan, Wyoming in December of 1974—in the back of the head with a rifle, stuffing his body into a barrel and burying it in the shaft of an abandoned gold mine on a ranch between Cheyenne and Laramie.

Uden, who had been married to Holtz for only a few months, was granted a divorce in 1975 after he had disappeared. She later remarried Gerald Uden and moved to Missouri, where they lived quietly until she was arrested after her ex-husband's skeletal remains were finally discovered in August of 2013.

Gerald Uden himself pleaded guilty to apparently unrelated first-degree murder charges last November in connection to the shooting deaths of his ex-wife Virginia Uden and their two young sons near Riverton, Wyoming, in 1980.

According to investigators, questions about the disappearance of Ronald Holtz were raised during the course of the Virginia Uden investigation—but the two murder cases were not otherwise connected in court during either trial.

During sentencing, Alice Uden's attorney's argued that their client was old and sick, and had only shot the allegedly violent and unpredictable Holtz after he threatened to harm her young daughter.

"What is the clean and glossy message the court is going to send today, that in 1974 we treated women horrendously?" defense attorney Don Miller said during the sentencing hearing. "She has never been a threat to the community, so there's no reason to remove her from the community. What the state is asking for is punishment for punishment's sake."

Miller added that Holtz allegedly told his wife that he had killed a 5-year-old girl while serving in Vietnam, and would do the same to her then-19-month-old daughter if she didn't stop crying.

Prosecutors, though, claimed that it wasn't a case of self-defense at all, but that a cold and calculating Alice Uden shot Holtz in the back of the head while he slept. They also note that Miller's arguments claiming self-defense failed to convince a jury during Alice Uden's trial, and shouldn't be taken into consideration during sentencing.

"Ms. Uden wanted to be rid of her then-husband," Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar told the court. "Her way out was to end Mr. Holtz's life. It is reprehensible and deserves significant prison time."

In court, Alice Uden said that she was prepared for any sentence the court handed down.

"There hasn't been a day I haven't thought of it," Uden told the court. "I prayed for his soul. Whatever the decision is today, I will be comfortable with it. I've put my life in God's hands."

Image via AP