By Laura Zuckerman
(Reuters) - An elderly Missouri woman convicted of killing her husband four decades ago and burying his body in an abandoned Wyoming gold mine was sentenced to life in prison by a Wyoming judge on Monday, a prosecutor said.
Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar had sought a minimum of 20 years in prison for Alice Uden, 75, of Chadwick, Missouri, while her lawyer argued for a suspended sentence that would see her get probation. But the state judge opted for life.
Uden, who ultimately remarried and was living quietly in Missouri when she was arrested a year ago, was found guilty in May of second-degree murder in the shooting death in Wyoming in 1974 or 1975 of Ronald Holtz.
She was arrested alongside her second husband, Gerald Uden, who was himself convicted last year of the 1980 killing of his ex-wife and her two young sons, and sentenced to life in prison. Court documents do not explain if there was any connection between the murders of their spouses and their later marriage.
Prosecutors said Alice Uden used a rifle to shoot her first husband of several months in the back of the head while he slept, but defense attorneys argued she killed him after he flew into a rage and threatened to harm her toddler daughter.
The defense on Monday urged the court to consider the message it was sending to society in handing down a punishment for a woman who was old and sick and had killed her abusive husband in self-defense, according to Homar.
“I told the court the message we don’t want to send to society is that you cover up a crime long enough and you’ll get away with it with very little punishment,” he said.
Allegations about Holtz’s death emerged during a probe by a Wyoming cold case team into the disappearance of Gerald Uden's ex-wife, Virginia, and her sons.
A witness in that investigation said Gerald Uden's current wife, Alice Uden, had confessed to shooting Holtz, stuffing his body into a barrel and burying it in an abandoned mine on Wyoming ranchlands.
Alice Uden divorced Holtz in 1975 in a default judgment after he could not be located. Wyoming authorities recovered his remains last August and found he had died of a gunshot to the head.
Alice Uden’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)
[Image: "Woman's hands cling to jail bars," via Shutterstock]