An inmate convicted of first-degree murder has died at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, according to a prepared statement from the Wyoming Department of Corrections on Tuesday.

Gary Lee Belden, 67, died at the Carbon County Hospital in Rawlins on Monday.

He was born in Springfield, Ill., on June 27, 1953.

According to Department of Corrections policy, an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. The department does not release protected health information.

Belden was convicted of first-degree murder in Lincoln County on Dec. 4, 2000. District Court Judge John Troughton sentenced Belden to life imprisonment.

The case began shortly after 8 p.m. Aug. 29, 1985, when Terrie Smith left the trailer home she shared with Nancy Lane to go to work near Diamondville, according to the summary of the case from Wyoming Supreme Court and 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals records.

Belden, one of Smith's co-workers, was scheduled to report to work at 9:30 p.m., but abruptly quit his job. Co-workers "described Belden's appearance as suspicious, impatient and nervous" and one coo-worker added he had scratches on his chest, neck and face. Belden left the job site in a co-worker's truck, which he did not have permission to use. He also left behind his motorcycle and final paycheck.

Smith returned home the next morning and found Lane's naked body on the living room floor, according to court records. "Lane had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death. Investigators collected scrapings from under Lane's fingernails, semen from her vagina, and a foreign hair that may or may not have come from a blanket Smith had placed over Lane's body. DNA testing later identified the hair as belonging to Smith's then estranged husband."

Belden was located in Utah more than two years later. He told investigators that he had permission to use the truck that he had taken; and admitted that he knew Lane through Smith, but he denied ever being inside their home.

Belden provided the investigators with blood and hair samples, and DNA analysis revealed that Belden was the source of the semen found in Lane's body. DNA analysis of the fingernail scrapings found on Lane tended to exclude him as the source.Lane's former boyfriend could not be excluded.

"For reasons that do not appear in the record, the investigation into Lane's death went dormant for over a decade. In 1998, the investigation resumed and led to charges against Belden for sexual assault and first-degree murder," according to the court record.

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