RIVERTON — The Wyoming Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of triple-murderer Gerald Uden in August, saying his claims of innocence aren’t affirmed factually.
Uden, confessed perpetrator of one of the most notorious crimes in local history, was captured in 2013, more than 30 years after the crime.
Wyoming’s high court justices wrote that appeals sought under the Factual Innocence Act require “newly discovered evidence… (that) establishes a bona fide issue of factual innocence,” and is distinguishable from claims made during prior court proceedings.
When Uden’s appeal first came to Fremont County District Court Judge Jason Conder last year, Conder wrote that the request was “frivolous on its face” because Uden hadn’t found any new, innocence-affirming evidence to support it.
The Wyoming Supreme Court agreed with Conder. “It was frivolous and… he relied on old evidence from his guilty plea hearing,” from which he claimed his case had been mishandled.
“If Mr. Uden could credibly document the existence of newly discovered evidence that establishes a bona fide issue of his factual innocence, he would be free to file a petition” for appeal, the judges wrote.
Uden acted as his own legal counsel in the appeal. The state was represented by Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill and three of her staff.
At his arraignment hearing seven years ago, Uden confessed to murdering his ex-wife and his two adopted sons at an isolated intersection near Pavillion.
The boys had been wanting to hunt birds with their adoptive father. The boys “Reagan and Richard wished to shoot a rifle, and, once there, (Uden’s ex-wife) Virginia removed a .22 rifle from her vehicle,” wrote the judges in their enumeration of the background of the case, which drew from Uden’s own words.
“Mr. Uden initially tested the rifle, and then turned it on Virginia, Reagan, and Richard,” they continued.
He shot Virginia in the back of the head and shot Richard behind the ear while the boy was standing near the vehicle.
“Reagan ran away after watching Mr. Uden shoot his mother and brother, but tripped and fell in a ditch. As Reagan lay in the ditch, Mr. Uden approached him ‘very quietly, and shot him behind the ear.’”
Uden said he buried the bodies in old gold mines near South Pass, but told authorities that one month later, he retrieved them and dropped them in one of the deepest areas of Fremont Lake in Sublette County.
“They sank rapidly,” he said, as they were wedged in 55-gallon drums in which Uden had drilled holes.
Despite a days-long search in which Uden led now-Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee and other agents, the bodies were never found.
Uden lived out the next 33 years with his next wife, Alice Uden.
Oddly, Alice Uden was convicted at around the same time for a completely separate homicide case, the murder of her third husband, Ron Holtz.
Alice Uden died June 12, 2019, while in custody at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Facility in Torrington.
Uden remains there but was not allowed contact with his wife while she lived.
One day after the death of his wife, Uden blamed her for the triple homicide of his estranged family.
“The murderess Alice Uden has passed on to the next life,” wrote Uden to true-crime writer Ron Franscell, who wrote a book on the crime based in part on original reporting by former Ranger staff writer Eric Blom, who first reported on the man’s arrest and corresponded with Uden after sentencing.
“I asked her to take ownership of Don Prunty (Alice’s second husband, who allegedly died of alcoholism complications) and Virginia and the boys but she refused,” he wrote.
“I am now free to seek total exoneration,” he added, “which I intend to do.”