CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Jurors heard emotional testimony Friday from one of the sons of a Missouri woman on trial for allegedly shooting her husband in Wyoming almost 40 years ago.
Todd Scott, 53, of Casper, testified that his mother, Alice Uden, of Chadwick, Missouri, told him in the 1970s she’d shot 25-year-old Ronald Holtz as he slept. His mother’s words haunted him for years afterward, he said.
"I don’t know why a mother would tell her children she killed somebody," Scott said, tearing up.
Scott said he later told police, employers -- anyone who would listen -- about what his mother had said to try to "rip this demon out of me."
He then turned to his frail, 75-year-old mother seated in a wheelchair across the courtroom and said: "I hate you."
The testimony of Scott and one of Uden’s daughters bolstered prosecutors’ argument that Holtz, Uden’s third husband, was asleep when she shot him with a .22-caliber rifle in southeast Wyoming between Christmas Eve, 1974, and early February, 1975.
Uden’s attorneys argue she acted in self-defense and to protect her 2-year-old daughter.
Investigators found Holtz’s remains in an abandoned mine last summer.
Last fall, authorities arrested Alice Uden and her fourth and current husband, Gerald Uden, 71, in Missouri. Gerald Uden subsequently pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison for killing his ex-wife and her two children in central Wyoming in 1980.
Investigators haven’t linked the two cases.
Uden met Holtz when she was a nurse at a Veterans Administration hospital in Sheridan, and Holtz, who’d been a helicopter gunner in Vietnam, was a psychiatric patient.
Uden’s attorneys say Holtz became abusive soon after they married in September 1974, and Uden shot him in the back of the head when he was about to attack the little girl.
On Thursday and again Friday, prosecutors called Uden’s daughter, Theresa Twyford, 55, of Naples, Illinois, to testify. Twyford said Friday her mother once told her, too, she shot Holtz as he slept.
"I don’t remember any drama"
The "matter of fact" conversation happened in Illinois, she said, where Twyford was living at the time in the 1970s. Both she and her mother had been drinking, she said.
"I don’t remember any drama. I don’t remember, really, any reaction. It just was," Twyford said.
Her mother also once told her that Holtz, following a car wreck in Illinois, had beat and kicked her on the side of the road, Twyford testified.
Scott testified that his conversation with his mother about Holtz’s shooting happened as he was driving her home to Laramie from Buford, a remote town east of Laramie where Uden was a bartender.
Both of them were drinking during the drive, he said.
"She just, out of the blue, told me how she got up one night, got a .22, and shot Ron in the head," Scott said.
He said his mother told him a friend helped her dispose of Holtz’s body in an abandoned gold mine on the Remount Ranch. Investigators have not named any accessories in the case.
The Remount Ranch is a small cattle outfit where Uden and her second husband, Donald Prunty, were caretakers in the early 1970s. Prunty died of natural causes in 1973.
The Remount Ranch is famous as the place where author Mary O’Hara wrote the 1941 children’s novel, "My Friend Flicka." The book mentions a mine shaft where animal carcasses from the ranch were dumped.
Scott said he knew the mine his mother was talking about when she talked about disposing of Holtz’s body because it was the same mine in the book.
Walking out of the courtroom after testifying, Scott muttered to his mother: "I hope it was all worth it."
Uden’s attorney, Donald Miller, objected and Sharpe, who said he hadn’t heard it, told the jury to disregard what Scott said.