CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — An attorney for an elderly Missouri woman accused of murder in her husband's shooting death almost 40 years ago in Wyoming said in opening statements Thursday she acted in a desperate effort to protect herself and her 2-year-old daughter from a habitually violent man.

Prosecutors argue that Alice Uden shot 25-year-old Ronald Holtz with a .22-caliber rifle in the back of his head while he slept — a "calculated and malicious" act.

Authorities arrested 75-year-old Uden and her current husband, 71-year-old Gerald Uden, both of Chadwick, Missouri, last fall. Depending on what Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe may rule, jurors in Alice Uden's trial might not get to hear that Gerald Uden pleaded guilty last fall and has begun serving a life sentence for killing his ex-wife and her two sons in central Wyoming in 1980.

Investigators have not linked the two cases. Alice Uden's attorneys have asked Sharpe not to allow jurors to hear anything about Gerald Uden's case.

Prosecutors allege Alice Uden shot Holtz sometime between Christmas Eve 1974 and early February 1975.

Testimony was scheduled to resume Friday and will likely continue next week.