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Alice Uden

Alice Uden

(Cheyenne) (AP) – Alice and Gerald Uden were quietly living out their senior years in the rural Ozarks of Missouri until the killings of their former spouses caught up with them last year and they were convicted separately in two old Wyoming murder cases.

On Monday, a judge in Cheyenne is scheduled to sentence Alice Uden, who killed her husband with a bullet to the head in the mid-1970s. The 75-year-old faces at least 20 years in prison but could get up to a life sentence.

Jurors in May didn’t buy Alice Uden’s account that she had to kill Ronald Holtz, 25, to defend her toddler daughter from him. They found her guilty of second-degree murder.

Yet her attorneys’ argument that Holtz, her third husband, was abusive could come up again at sentencing before Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe.

“I was terrified of him. He’d threatened to kill my daughter,” Uden told an investigator in a recording of the interview played at her trial.

Prosecutors argued that she shot Holtz with a rifle as he slept. One of her sons, Todd Scott, testified that his mother told him as much decades ago, and the confession has haunted him ever since.

In court, Scott turned to his frail mother seated in a wheelchair and said, “I hate you.”

The shooting happened at the couple’s home in Cheyenne in late 1974 or early 1975. Uden testified she put Holtz’s body in a cardboard barrel, wrested it into the trunk of her car, and dumped it in an abandoned gold mine in the high country between Cheyenne and Laramie.

Scott first told investigators in the 1980s about the place where his mother dumped the body, but attempts to find Holtz’s remains in the mine, which was used to dispose of animal carcasses, were unsuccessful until investigators dug deeper than ever before last summer.

The jurors declined to find Uden guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence. They also declined to convict her of the least-serious charge, manslaughter.

Already serving life in prison is Uden’s fourth and current husband, Gerald Uden, 72, who pleaded guilty in November to three counts of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-wife and her two children in central Wyoming in 1980.

Authorities arrested the Chadwick, Missouri, couple last fall. Prosecutors haven’t drawn any link between the two cases.

Gerald Uden admitted killing Virginia Uden, 32, and their two sons – Richard, 11, and Reagan, 10 – when authorities questioned him about the deaths last year. Their bodies have yet to be found. Gerald Uden said in a Fremont County courtroom in November that he shot each of them with a rifle not far from his home and dumped their bodies in an abandoned mine.

Months later, he said, he retrieved the bodies and sank them in Fremont Lake in western Wyoming.

Investigators briefly searched the lake for the bodies last fall and have been planning a more comprehensive search, but they face an enormous challenge: The lake is 10 miles long, a mile wide, and at 600 feet is among the deepest in the U.S.

“It’s not something we can accomplish ourselves. So we have to depend on the timing of other assets to assist us,” Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Director Steve Woodson said Friday.

Gerald Uden was hazy about his motive, saying in court only that his ex-wife had become “intolerable” and was using the boys to drive a wedge into his relationship with Alice.

(Jonesboro) (AP) – Arkansas State University is delaying the target opening date of its new campus in Mexico until 2016.

The campus in Queretaro was initially scheduled to open in fall 2015, but university officials say they will push that back by one year. Arkansas State Chancellor Tim Hudson says unexpected issues with infrastructure, such as water and electricity, prompted the delay.

Hudson says Arkansas State’s work on curriculum and student services remains on schedule.

The university broke ground in February on the $50 million, privately funded campus. The school will offer coursework in English and officials say it’s the first American-style university campus in Mexico.

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved plans for the campus in April.

(Clayton) (AP) – Three black people are among the 12-member grand jury hearing evidence in the Michael Brown case.

Paul Fox, director of judicial administration for St. Louis County Circuit Court, confirmed the racial and gender makeup of the grand jury on Friday. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said it will be several weeks before a decision is made on whether to charge Darren Wilson, the Ferguson officer who shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9.

The grand jury consists of six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man. Nine votes are needed to indict.

The ages and hometowns of the jurors weren’t released. A judge is expected to consider Monday whether to make that information public.

The Justice Department also is investigating Brown’s death.

(Washington) (AP) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says fellow conservatives should “stop the fight” over Common Core education standards and instead consider the benefits the benchmarks offer students in struggling schools.

Huckabee’s comments Friday put him at odds with a significant bloc of Republicans, including many of his potential rivals for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Huckabee acknowledges the standards have become politically “toxic.” But he says parents from both parties should stop fighting the standards, which states voluntarily adopted and describe what reading and language skills students should learn in each grade.

Tea party-styled conservatives brand the standards as one-size-fits-all prescriptions that have the backing of President Barack Obama. Teacher unions oppose having their members graded on how well students learn the more rigorous skills.

Ozarks Medical Center President and CEO Tom Keller steps forward and discusses his reasoning for doing the challenge. (ORN Photo)

Ozarks Medical Center President and CEO Tom Keller steps forward and discusses his reasoning for doing the challenge. Taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are, from left, Pam Ream, Director of OMC Rehabilitation Services; Dr. Vikas Kumar, OMC Neurologist; David Gohn, West Plains Bank President and Chief Operating Officer; John Grisham, with Grisham Properties; Tom Keller, OMC President and CEO; Tom Stehn, West Plains City Administrator; Dianna Sigert, OMC Director of Clinics; and Jack Randolph, West Plains High School Principal. (ORN Photo)

(West Plains) – Business representatives, city representatives and officials with Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains participated in the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Thursday.

The challenge, which has gone viral online, involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

ALS, or Lou Gherig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes problems including muscle spasms, weakness, and trouble breathing, and eventually death.

For more information on the challenge, visit the ALSA website.

(ORN Photo)

(ORN Photo)

(Omaha) (AP) – A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowing down in rural areas of 10 states in the Plains and the West.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says falling crop prices have farmers spending less, and crop prices are expected to continue declining this fall.

The overall economic index for the region fell into negative territory to 48.3 in August from July’s 51.8.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in the months ahead.

Goss said bankers are not very optimistic about the next few months. The survey’s confidence index dropped to 39.9 in August, from 42.9.

Bankers from rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

(Willow Springs) – Highway Patrol Troop G has announced that a sobriety checkpoint will be held in Douglas County sometime in the month of September.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, in cooperation with area law enforcement, will conduct the checkpoint.

Sobriety checkpoints are part of the Patrol’s efforts to remove careless and intoxicated drivers from Missouri’s highways. This enforcement operation will be conducted at a location which has been found to experience a higher than normal number of alcohol-related contacts, hazardous driving contacts, and traffic crashes.

Highway Patrol officials urge motorists to always wear a seat belt and never drink and drive.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected the proposed wording for a prospective ballot item that would let voters decide whether to legalize marijuana in the state.

McDaniel’s office on Thursday said the name and ballot title on the proposal sponsored by Rockie Barley of Malvern is ambiguous and has “misleading tendencies.” McDaniel says changes are needed to more fully and correctly summarize the proposal.

McDaniel has approved two other marijuana-related ballot proposals for the 2016 ballot. One would legalize medical marijuana and the second would allow voters to decide whether to approve making it legal to grow and possess marijuana and all products derived from the cannabis plant.

(West Plains) – West Plains city officials have announced that County Road 6460 will be closed most of the day Monday.

The closure will run from 7 AM to 5 PM Monday, August 25. City officials say that water and sewer installation work will take place at that time.

Citizens are asked to find an alternate route during the day.

(Caulfield) – A Caulfield resident suffered minor injuries Thursday evening after a one-vehicle accident in Caulfield.

The accident happened at 7:10 PM on Highway 160 at the Caulfield Post Office when the westbound vehicle driven by 42-year-old Sandra Drewery turned into the post office parking lot and struck a pole.

Drewery was taken from the scene of the accident to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains by ambulance.