After Ralph Lang was caught plotting to kill a doctor at a Madison Planned Parenthood clinic, he never disavowed the plan or said he wouldn’t try again, and that makes him a dangerous man, a Dane County judge said Friday.
Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara sentenced Lang to 10 years in prison for his 2011 plot, which was foiled when he accidentally fired his gun inside a Madison motel room and then told police what he planned to do at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Lang, 65, of Marshfield, declined to make a statement in court before McNamara sentenced him — other than to tell McNamara that he was looking “mighty fine” — saying that he was “still spiritually struggling.” Lang complimented McNamara for looking as though he had gotten some sun, which Lang said he wished he could get out and do.
McNamara responded that he had gotten sun coaching his son’s baseball team, and said Lang probably wasn’t thinking about the lives of people at the Planned Parenthood clinic, who might also have children, when he prepared to kill an abortion doctor at the clinic.
“That lack of consideration is what makes you dangerous,” McNamara said.
Lang was convicted in May of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
He also received 10 years of extended supervision, during which he cannot be within a mile of any abortion or reproductive health clinic. His stay in prison will be shortened by nearly 2½ years, as credit for the time he has been in custody since his arrest.
Lang was arrested on May 25, 2011, after he accidentally fired a gun in his room at the Motel 6, 1754 Thierer Road, not far from the Planned Parenthood clinic on Madison’s Far East Side. When police came to investigate he told them of his plan to find and kill a doctor who performs abortions at the clinic.
During testimony at his trial, Lang admitted that he had told police he wished he had a machine gun to “mow down” the clinic’s staff.
McNamara told Lang that despite many opportunities, Lang has not said that what he did was wrong or given anyone the impression that he intends not to pursue his plan once he is free, and that makes him a dangerous person.
“You have made choices that now require you to be out of society, out of the community,” McNamara said. “You have forfeited your right to live among us.”
Assistant District Attorney Robert Kaiser asked for a 20-year prison sentence for Lang, saying Lang had ignored advice from his family and from clergy in the past after they recognized he was talking more about violence as he discussed abortion.
Lang’s lawyer, Eric Schulenburg, asked for three years in prison and that Lang have the opportunity to be released for two months before reporting to prison. He said Lang would follow the law if ordered not to be near abortion clinics, and that would deter him from doing what he had discussed.
Lang had also faced federal charges of using a firearm to intimidate or interfere with others using a program that receives federal assistance, and with using a firearm during a crime of violence. But after Lang’s attempted murder conviction, federal prosecutors dropped their charges, though they said they could reinstate them if they feel there is a substantial federal intent in prosecuting the case, and if the state’s prosecution has left that intent “demonstrably unvindicated.”
U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil, who attended Lang’s sentencing Friday, said it was too soon to know whether he would ask the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington for approval to reinstate the federal charge.