David Lang, of Crown Point was charged with murder in the second degree in relation to the June 20, murder of his brother Russell.
Family members of David Lang cried and called out “I love you Dave” to him as he was removed from the court room on Aug. 8 after the 71-year-old was sentenced to 15 years in prison with five years post supervision for killing his brother.
Lang pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree manslaughter. In June he had reached a plea agreement in Essex County Court that lowered the charge from the original charge of second degree murder. As part of his plea agreement, Judge Richard B. Meyer agreed to a sentence of no less than 10 years and no more than 15 years with five years of probation.
During sentencing, Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague asked for the maximum allowable sentence to be imposed.
“David Lang decided to pick up that gun and kill Russell, and Russell didn’t die immediately. Not one point did the defendant go over to him or try to offer support, medically or emotionally. He placed a very cold, lack of emotion 911 call. At no time did he show any remorse through the recording that I listened to,” said Sprague.
Members of Lang’s family had written several letters to the court on behalf of David, asking for the minimum sentence of 10 years.
“What is also throughout these letters missing is Russell. Russell seems to be the forgotten person here. “Poor David this, Poor David that” At no point do we hear any remorse or any mourning of Russell,” said Sprague. “So I’m here to be that voice for Russell Lang.”
Lang’s attorney, Chief public defender Brandon Boutelle, argued that Lang had lived 70 years with a clean criminal record and his family was reaching out to the court to grant them the comfort of his company.
“From these letters you get a sense of the mentality of this family, it is very hard for that generation to express emotion,” said Boutelle. “They still see they have David and are holding onto some hope of his company before his final days.”
Boutelle said it is evident from the brother’s life-long cohabitation that David had compassion for Russell. Stating that due to David’s bad back, Russell stepped in and helped with the farm work and David financially supported Russell through his Social Security checks.
“They filled wholes in eachothers lives,” said Boutelle.
David Lang decided to speak on his own behalf before the sentence was handed down.
“I am not a perfect man, I’m truly sorry, I’ve always loved my brother,” said Lang, then he said thank you.
Meyer said there was no basis for the court to show anymore mercy to Lang than has already been shown, given the reduced charge. Meyer said if not for the plea agreement he felt a punishment of 40 to 60 percent higher was called for and felt 15 years was the appropriate sentence.
Meyer said at no point during the trial did he see or read evidence that this was a crime of passion. He had to also send a message to anyone out there, whether they be elderly or 20 years old there will be consequences if they decide to fire a gun at someone.
The Crown Point man admitted to shooting and killing his brother, Russell Lang, in the head on June 19, 2012, following an argument at the farmhouse they shared at 325 Lake Road in Crown Point.
Russell, 63, was found in the driveway and was taken to Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga in critical condition. He was transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, where he died on June 20.
Following the sentence, friend of the family Thomas Tendy called the sentence a “disgrace” and left the court room.
A family representative who asked not to be identified said both brothers were and are extremely loved and that both are in their minds every day.
“I don’t believe it was thought out, he had been drunk for days,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense to put a 71 year old man in jail for 15 years.”
Tendy said he felt David had been “railroaded” during the court proceedings.
“He did not have the opportunity to defend himself, a poor person who know’s nothing about the legal system was railroaded, he was a beautiful human being and so was David he didn’t get a chance to tell his story and for a D.A. to stand there and say he put a bullet in his head when the man can’t even use his fingers is outrageous. This was a joke. It was a travesty this was a polly wog in a legal pond. It’s a disgrace what happened and it is a blight on the American justice and poor people because a rich person wouldn’t be in that situation right now,” said Tendy.
Tendy also argued it wasn’t appropriate for the defense to say the family didn’t take Russell into consideration since his murder.
“For her to say that no one in the family misses Russell is outrageous she never talked to the family about their relationship with Russell this is private family of farmers,” said Tendy.
Sprague released a statement following the court ruling that said, “This was a tough case from the beginning...one brother taking the life of another. This family has been devastated and now they basically have lost their other brother. This was a senseless and horrific act and although this sentence cannot begin to heal this family, it will insure that the public is safe and the defendant is held accountable for what he did.”