- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Attorneys for an elderly Missouri woman accused of shooting her husband as he slept almost 40 years ago in Wyoming plan to argue at trial she acted in self-defense.

The defense tactic came up Wednesday as a prosecutor and attorneys for Alice Uden, 75, sparred over what evidence and testimony should be allowed at the upcoming first-degree murder trial.

The judge deferred ruling on their arguments until after the trial begins. Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday and Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe has set aside eight days for trial.

Uden allegedly dumped the body of Ronald Holtz, 25, in an abandoned mine shaft in southeast Wyoming after she shot him with a .22-caliber rifle in late 1974 or early 1975.

Authorities arrested Alice Uden and her current husband, Gerald Uden, 71, in Chadwick, Mo., in September - but accused Gerald Uden of three different murders in central Wyoming in 1980.

Now, Alice Uden’s attorney, Donald Miller, wants to bar jurors at her trial from hearing that Gerald Uden killed his ex-wife, Virginia Uden, 32, and her two sons, Richard Uden, 11, and Reagan Uden, 10.

“What happened with Gerald Uden is totally irrelevant to this case,” Miller told Sharpe.

Gerald Uden pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder last fall, admitting in court he shot the three with a .22-caliber rifle a few miles from his home. Holtz’s death occurred before Alice and Gerald Uden, who married in 1976, even met, Miller said.

District Attorney Scott Homar told Sharpe he didn’t plan to mention the central Wyoming slayings in the upcoming murder trial. Homar also didn’t rule it out, however, and Sharpe said he would hold off on ruling until Homar sought to bring it up at trial.

Uden’s attorneys are preparing to argue that she acted in self-defense and to protect her then 2-year-old daughter, Erica Prunty, according to a court-filed statement Miller proposed be read to prospective jurors.

The defense plans to call a sociologist and a criminologist to testify about domestic violence attitudes held by law enforcement officers in the 1970s.

Homar expressed doubt about the self-defense argument.

“Certainly shooting someone in the back of the head while they’re asleep would call this into question,” he told Sharpe.

Last summer, investigators recovered Holtz’s remains from a vertical mine shaft on a ranch in the mountains between Cheyenne and Laramie. His skull had a .22-caliber bullet in it, authorities said.

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