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Judge to Uden: Stay put

Sep 19, 2019 Clair McFarland, Staff Writer

After retracting the confession that landed him in prison, convicted triple-murderer Gerald Uden will not get another chance in Fremont County District Court.

Judge Jason Conder denied 77-year-old Uden's request to withdraw the guilty plea made nearly six years ago.

Uden remains at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington.

In his denial, Conder addresses the case that frustrated local and state law enforcement for 33 years following the September 1980 disappearance of 32-year-old Virginia Uden and her sons Richard, 11, and Regan, 10.

The judge wrote that Gerald Uden's motion to withdraw his guilty plea was denied because of temporal jurisdiction, saying that the motion is "untimely."

Wyoming law states that convicted defendants have five years to appeal after sentencing. Gerald Uden was sentenced Nov. 12, 2013, after he confessed to shooting his estranged wife with her heirloom hunting rifle, then shooting one of his adopted sons before chasing down the other.

"Richard was standing beside the tailgate of the station wagon, and I shot him behind the ear," Gerald Uden had told the court. "That took approximately 10 seconds. Regan saw what was happening, and he ran, and he tripped and he fell in the ditch."

Gerald Uden shot Regan behind the ear as well, court documents state.

Gerald Uden wrote to true-crime author Ron Franscell earlier this year stating that his late wife, who died in June, had actually killed his estranged family.

Time's run out

Because Gerald Uden's sentencing was more than five years ago, the court no longer has jurisdiction over his plea.

But there were several factors in the request for withdrawal. Gerald Uden had written that he was incompetent at the time of the crime, that his factual basis was inadequate, and that his legal counsel should have done more.

In response, Conder stated that "the court disagrees" but "will not, need not, and cannot address those substantive issues" because too much time has passed since the sentencing.

Therefore, Conder continued, Gerald Uden's motion to withdraw the guilty plea "shall be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction."

Just a few hours after Gerald Uden's request to withdraw his guilty plea was filed on July 18, Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun submitted his own response on the matter, also citing the expiration of the court's temporal jurisdiction.

Gordon's silence

While his wife was on her death bed, Gerald Uden also wrote a letter to Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, requesting pardon, commutation, or relief. Gordon's office referred the letter to Attorney General Bridget Hill. Her office told Gerald Uden: "You are not eligible for pardon consideration and neither the Governor nor the Attorney General's Office can assist you with seeking relief from the courts."

Gerald Uden's request was then forwarded to the Wyoming Board of Parole, which can make a favorable or unfavorable review of it, if the board chooses to do so.

Confession, plea deal

Alice Uden was arrested in 2013 in Missouri after the body of her third husband, Ron Holtz, was discovered in a Cheyenne-area mineshaft with a bullet in its skull. She was charged with second-degree murder for killing Holtz and was sentenced in 2014.

Days after her arrest, Gerald Uden confessed to Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation that he had killed had killed Virginia Uden and the two boys. He confessed likewise throughout court proceedings.

In October 2013 Gerald Uden agreed to plead guilty if Wyoming dropped the option of a death penalty.

The state agreed, and Uden was sentenced to life in prison.

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