Man to spend 5 years in jail after he was found guilty in Campbell County Christmas murder case

Michael Langford, Carlton Stratton got into a fight on Christmas night

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter, Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager, Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer


A 41-year-old man will spend five years in prison after he was found guilty in connection with a deadly Christmas shooting at a mobile home park in Campbell County.

“Five years for killing my brother? I mean come on” Mary Cash, Carlton Stratton’s sister, said.

Cash and her family are disappointed after a jury said Michael Langford should spend 5 years in prison for killing her brother Carlton Stratton on Christmas night last year.

“They say you have to forgive somebody. How do you forgive somebody that killed a member of your family?” Cash said.

Langford and Carlton Stratton got into a fight on Christmas night, according to prosecutors. Langford then reportedly shot and killed Stratton.

The Commonwealth had to prove to the jury that there was malice or heat of passion. 

Langford’s attorney argued self-defense.

Langford was originally charged with second degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

The jury ultimately found him not guilty for the gun charge and found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
“12 citizens had a very hard decision to make and we respect the outcome they told the court,” said Jason Todd the deputy commonwealth attorney for Campbell County.

Stratton's mom, sister and cousin took the stand to talk about him and the impact his death has had on their family. 

Langford also took the stand, saying he regrets that night and that he didn't know Stratton or why Stratton chose to swing at him. Through tears, Langford said he's been torn since that night because Stratton had kids, and he knows what it's like to lose someone. 

Prosecutors say Langford was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2003 in Lynchburg after he reportedly got in a fistfight with a man who later died from falling and hitting his head. Langford served six months in jail for the incident. 

“You can kill people twice and just get five years? That’s not good,” Cash said.

Langford's attorney and family declined to comment after the trial.


The trial for a 41-year-old man charged in connection with a deadly Christmas shooting at a mobile home park in Campbell County began Wednesday.

Michael Lee Langford is on trial for second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony after Carlton Stratton was shot and killed last Christmas.

The jury consists of five men and seven women.
During the trial, Langford's attorney argued that his client was acting in self-defense when he shot Stratton.

Langford's attorney also discussed Stratton's tattoos, which are associated with the white supremacist prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood.

Furthermore, the defense discussed Stratton having meth and other drugs in his system at the time of his death. 

During the trial, Campbell County investigators, as well as Roanoke medical examiner Amy Tharp, testified.

After both sides finished with closing statements, at 4:20 p.m., the jury began deliberating.

At 6 p.m., the jury was sent home. It will resume its deliberations at 8:55 a.m. Thursday.

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