CROWN POINT — In Crown Point Court on Wednesday, David Lang pleaded not guilty to killing his brother with a gunshot to the head at their home here on Tuesday.
Russell Lang, 63, died at Fletcher Allen Health Care shortly after noon Wednesday.
David had been charged Tuesday with second-degree attempted murder, but Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague upped that to second-degree murder.
His attorney, Public Defender Robert Seymour, entered the plea for him in court before Town Court Justice Arthur S. Miclette.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that this was an accidental (shooting),” said New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Capt. Robert LaFountain at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “All the evidence indicates it was a deliberate, intentional homicide.”
‘ADMITTED TO CRIME’
The motive for the shooting, which occurred at about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday at the brothers’ home at 325 Lake Road, evolved out of an argument the two were having, LaFountain said.
There is considerable evidence pointing to David’s guilt, including the recording of the 911 call that David, 70, made after the shooting, he said.
“David Lang is the one who called the 911 center and reported that he had shot his brother, and he was on the phone for several minutes.”
Throughout David’s interchanges with 911 dispatchers and police, according to LaFountain, he made several admissions to the crime.
Russell, 63, lay in the driveway when police arrived Tuesday. Officers performed CPR on him, and then he was taken by ambulance to Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga. Later in the day, the critically injured man was flown to Fletcher Allen Health Care. Tuesday night, police reported his condition as grave.
David was taken into custody without incident on Tuesday, police said.
LaFountain said Russell was shot while in the driveway, from a distance, roughly speaking, of less than 100 feet.
Police found several weapons at the home, including a .22 rifle that authorities believed may be the gun used in the shooting. Technicians were continuing analysis of the crime scene Wednesday, a process that included aerial mapping of the property.
The Langs’ home sits on about 90 acres of a farm that has not been operated for many years, but the area involved in the shooting is just a small part of that, police said.
“The crime scene appears to be fairly contained within the property,” LaFountain told media at the Crown Point firehouse. “However, as we’re all aware of, evidence can be located anywhere within a residence or throughout the premises or even beyond.”
Authorities were looking at the possibility that alcohol was involved.
“What’s important to note is that he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Sprague said of David.
“Our hearts go out to the families that have to deal with this,” she continued. “It’s a double tragedy for them. They’ve lost a brother and a son, and now one’s incarcerated on a murder charge, so we have to keep that in mind.”
Ticonderoga resident Kelly Barber, who lived near the Lang brothers on Lake Road for several years, told the Press-Republican that Russell and David were always good neighbors.
“You could always just go up the road, and if you needed anything, they were there,” she said.
Russell, she said, was well known in Crown Point, as he would walk through downtown every day.
“It seemed really weird not to see Russell out walking today,” Barber said.
“Everybody around here’s pretty surprised (and) pretty shocked that (the shooting) happened.”
In court on Wednesday, alcohol was one factor Miclette considered as he weighed the issue of bail, Sprague said.
“The (person’s) reputation and character in the community is something to consider,” she said.
And, she said, “it’s the severity of the charge.”
A second-degree-murder conviction carries with it a sentence of 25 years to life, the DA said.
As well, she noted Seymour did not make an application for bail for David, who was taken to Essex County Jail after the arraignment.
Miclette set a felony hearing, again in Crown Point Court, for 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 27.
News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this account.