Ralph Lang in court 2

Ralph Lang appears in court on Friday, May 27, 2011.

ED TRELEVEN - State Journal

A Marshfield man who faces state and federal charges for allegedly plotting to kill a Planned Parenthood doctor in Madison was found incompetent Friday to stand trial on an attempted murder charge in state court.

Ralph Lang, 64, will be turned over to the state Department of Health Services for determination of how best to treat him so that he can regain competency within a year.

Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan made the determination after listening to testimony from psychiatrist Dr. Erik Knudson, who examined Lang nearly a year ago and found that he likely suffers from a psychotic disorder but that he otherwise understands the charges and proceedings against him and was able to assist in his defense.

Flanagan also heard from Lang, who testified that he is "spiritually struggling" because the staff at jails in Dane and Columbia counties, where he has been held, have refused to bring him a priest to pray over him.

"I'm not prepared to go to trial because of my spiritual struggles," Lang told Flanagan.

Lang was arrested on May 25, 2011, after accidentally firing a gun in his motel room, then explaining to Madison police that he had planned to kill an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood.

Lang is charged in Dane County Circuit Court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. In federal court Lang is charged with attempting to injure, intimidate and interfere with persons participating in a program and activity receiving federal financial assistance. He is also charged with using a firearm in a crime of violence.

Lawyer Eric Schulenburg, who was appointed to help Lang with the competency issue, argued that after hearing Lang testify on Friday that Knudson does not know whether Lang is competent, only that it didn't seem from his limited testimony that he has become incompetent since he examined Lang on June 28, 2011.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Kaiser argued that Schulenburg had provided no testimony showing that Lang has become incompetent since that exam.

But Flanagan ruled that the state had not met its burden to show that Lang was still competent as of Friday and said he had no choice but to find Lang incompetent, although capable of regaining competency with treatment.

According to court documents, Lang is also questioning his competency to proceed in federal court. A competency hearing in the federal case is scheduled for May 31.

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