By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s Supreme Court has dismissed the latest appeal of a man who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-wife and two adopted sons in Fremont County.
The court, reviewing the case of convicted murderer Gerald Lee Uden, said it lacked jurisdiction over a lower court’s decision to dismiss Uden’s request to have his record cleared because of his discovery of new evidence.
Uden pleaded guilty in 2013 to three charges of first-degree murder filed in the 1980 murders of his ex-wife Virginia and adopted sons Reagan and Richard.
Uden told investigators he shot the three and then hid their bodies, first in old gold mines in Fremont County and then by putting them in barrels and then sinking the barrels in Fremont Lake.
At about the same time, Uden’s wife at the time of the murders, Alice Uden, was herself convicted of murdering her third husband in the 1970s. Their story was detailed in the book “Alice and Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” by true crime author Ron Franscell, a former Wyoming newspaper publisher.
The Udens were incarcerated at the same institution — the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington — and Alice Uden died last year.
After Alice Uden’s death, Gerald Uden began efforts to exonerate himself.
Uden filed a petition with a state district court seeking to have his conviction dismissed under the Wyoming “Factual Innocence Act.” Under the act, if a person convicted of a crime can offer new factual evidence that proves their innocence, the person can be exonerated.
However, the state district court found that Uden only offered transcripts of his trial and guilty plea, not new evidence that might prove his innocence. As a result, the district court dismissed Uden’s request.
Uden appealed the dismissal to the Supreme Court, but a unanimous court ruled since his request was only dismissed and not denied, it has no jurisdiction over the issue.
The Supreme Court said Uden is free to file another request with the district court. As a result, the dismissal is not a final order that can be appealed to the Supreme Court, Justice Lynne Boomgaarden wrote.
“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 that satisfied all of the (Factual Innocence) Act’s requirements,” she wrote. “Anything short of that, however, would again be subject to dismissal following the court’s initial review.”
In a footnote, Boomgaarden wrote that given Uden’s detailed admissions in court, it might be difficult for him to prove his innocence.
“We agree with the district court that it is difficult to imagine how Mr. Uden could credibly assert a bona fide factual innocence claim given his detailed admissions as to how and why he murdered his ex-wife and sons,” the footnote said.