The prosecution wrapped up its case around noon today against the Grundy Center man accused of killing State Trooper Jim Smith during a standoff last April. In coverage streamed by KCRG TV, the lawyer for Michael Lang asked the judge to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. But Judge Joel Dalrymple declined.
“The court does find that there is a question of fact regarding the defendant of having acted with malice aforethought and that the defendant acted willfully deliberately with premeditation and with the specific intent to kill serve as Smith. And so as it relates to count one, the motion is denied,” he says. That count is first-degree murder, and the judge also denied the request to dismiss charges of attempted murder and assault on a police officer in connection with the case.
The prosecution rested after calling a ballistics expert from the D-C-I and the State Medical Examiner to testify. The defense lawyer then said they would not call any witnesses. They also said Lang would not testify in his own defense and the judge confirmed it with him. “Would you like any additional time to discuss that matter with your attorneys before that is a final decision,” Dalrymple said. Lang replied “no sir.”
Prosecutors asked that the trial not be resumed until Monday to allow Sergeant Smith’s family can fly to Washington, D.C. for the National Peace Officers Memorial ceremony Friday. The defense attorney said he had a concern about the long weekend and jurors possibly discussing the case. The judge addressed the issue with the jury before ending the session for the day.
“The court obviously always has concerns, heightened concerns when we take a break for a weekend because that opportunity for things that might create issues and problems for all of us are just that much more prevalent over the course of a weekend,” he said.
The judge then reminded the jury they have not gotten the case yet and should not discuss it during the next three days. “Stray away from whether it be the barbecue, and the neighbor who’s well aware of the fact that you’re on this jury and wants to come over — particularly after a couple of beers and start chirping in your ear — about their opinion of jury service or this case or whatever the case may be. That you walk away and you make it clear to them that you want no part of that and that they shouldn’t be talking to you about that,” Dalrymple said. He also reminded jurors to not discuss the case with family members during the weekend.
The trial will resume Monday at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Webster City where the case was moved on a change of venue.