WEBSTER CITY, Iowa — After fewer than two hours of deliberations, an Iowa jury has found Michael Lang guilty of the murder of Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith during a standoff in Grundy Center in April 2021. The jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts against Lang, including the most serious – First Degree Murder – which carries an automatic penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The trial began last week in Hamilton County, with closing arguments beginning Monday morning. During closing arguments, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Douglas Hammerand reinforced the many opportunities Lang had to surrender, even after Sgt. Smith was shot.
“Because when you take a loaded 12-gauge shotgun with slugs, not birdshot, and you shoot somebody in the chest and then when they’re on the ground defenseless and you shoot them again. That’s murder in the first degree. That’s what it is. He had time to reflect, time to think, time to consider,” said Hammerand.
Defense attorney Aaron Hawbaker told jurors the state had failed to prove Lang committed first-degree murder and manslaughter and assault would fit the crime better.
The jury was dismissed from the courtroom around 11:18 a.m. Monday to begin its deliberations.
Lang was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and assaulting a police officer for the events of April 9th, 2021 which resulted in the death of Sgt. Smith, a 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol. It began when Lang allegedly assaulted a Grundy Center police officer following a chase earlier in the day. He fled the scene and barricaded himself inside his home, which is where an hours-long standoff took place before investigators say Lang shot Sgt. Smith.
Lang was also injured in the shooting while officers struggled to take him into custody.