Lang guilty of murdering Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 1:43 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 3:02 PM CDT
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WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - After about two hours of deliberation, a jury found Michael Lang guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2021 shooting death of Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith. He faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lang was also convicted on charges of attempted murder and assault on a peace officer.

Testimony in the trial, which was moved to Hamilton County due to pretrial publicity, started last Tuesday and wrapped up on Thursday after the state rested its case and Lang’s lawyers chose not to call a single witness to the stand. Trial proceedings did not take place on Friday to allow Sergeant Smith’s family and colleagues to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in a memorial service as part of National Police Week.

Closing arguments were delivered Monday morning before the case went to the jury shortly before noon.

Prosecutors said Lang, 42, led Grundy Center Police on a chase the evening of April 9th, 2021, after they attempted to pull him over for driving while barred. Eventually, law enforcement was able to pull Lang over who then assaulted a Grundy Center police officer, disarmed the officer and placed him in a chokehold. Lang fled the scene returning to his home in the 300 block of G Avenue in Grundy Center.

Law enforcement would locate Lang at his home and Grundy Center where a standoff began. Sergeant Smith was part of a tactical team sent into the home to try and apprehend Lang when he was shot and killed.

Officials said Lang remained inside until an armored vehicle drove into the home - Lang is then accused of opening fire on law enforcement who returned fire. Lang was hit several times and was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals before being taken into custody.

Smith’s family, many of whom had attended the trial, was in the courtroom as the verdict was read at around 2 p.m.

Sergeant Smith was a 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol. The 51-year-old was born in Cedar Rapids and graduated from La Salle High School in 1969. He attended college at Kirkwood Community College before the University of Northern Iowa where he graduated in 1992. He started with the Iowa State Patrol in 1993 and was stationed in Fairfield before transferring to Oelwein in 1996.

Jim lived in Independence with his wife of nearly 28 years. He was the father of two.

At his funeral, Sergeant Smith was remembered as a proud father and a man of integrity and faith.

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