80-year-old woman sentenced 8 to 10 years for husband’s murder

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 9:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 9:31 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP/Gray News) - Lavetta Langdon appeared in Red Willow County Court July 12 for sentencing after being convicted of murdering her husband, Larry Langdon, in August 2020.

Court documents said she shot him twice in his sleep and confessed to the police.

KNOP reported the two had been married since 1960. Lavetta Langdon, who is 80 years old, said she was abused by her husband for over 50 years.

Red Willow County Attorney Paul Wood, on behalf of the state, gave insights from doctors on Lavetta Langdon’s case to show that there was a motive and that it gave elements of first-degree murder.

Larry Langdon’s murder was captured on a home security video and reviewed by the judge.

“While she was forthcoming about the crime, it is not a rationally fair base to settle this case,” Wood said. “There is no way under Nebraska law that this a legal defense nor does it excuse or explain her conduct.”

The state recommended that Lavetta Langdon serve 12 to 18 years.

Brian Davis of Cozad, Lavetta Langdon’s attorney, researched with domestic violence victims about how abuse over long spans of time affects a person’s brain function.

Davis tried to paint the picture that some issues cannot be categorized as black and white.

Court records said Lavetta Langdon suffered from extensive abuse including forms of torture and isolation.

“We don’t know if she would have been acquitted for self-defense,” Davis said. “Mrs. Langdon is a victim as well as Mr. Langdon.”

Lavetta Langdon shared instances of her abuse with doctors. In one situation, she said that Larry Langdon forced her to undress and eat dog food in front of their four daughters.

Lavetta Langdon said she did reach out to law enforcement multiple times through the years but they did not help her.

At one time, she divorced Larry Langdon and fled to Georgia. Her daughters said they feared he would find her and kill her.

Family members were crying after hearing the pain she endured for decades.

“She will always carry the trauma of that day and for the past 60 years,” Davis said. “She never shared some details of her story and unfortunately, had to tell it here.”

Eugene Langdon, brother of late Larry Langdon, attended the sentencing in support of Lavetta Langdon.

“I know what my brother was like and he was not a nice person. He had a dual personality. He had a public personality and he would make people think he was high, mighty and a great person. You take him back home and he was the monster you all hear about in your closets,” said Eugene Langdon. “I feel like when you live through years of hell, which Lavetta did, it is very heartbreaking for her to go through more years of hell.”

When Attorney Davis compared his grandparents to Lavetta Langdon, he choked up.

“Where would my grandparents be if they endured what Lavetta endured?” Davis asked.

Davis said Lavetta Langdon takes accountability and responsibility for her actions.

Lavetta Langdon dedicated her life to helping others. She worked for Stratton schools for many years.

“People describe Lavetta as a caring and compassionate person,” Davis said. “Let her daughters enjoy their mother in a way they have never experienced.”

Judge David Urbom sentenced Lavetta Langdon to eight to 10 years with the possibility of parole after four years.

“I have to consider what is fair to you, protect the public, and rehabilitate you. I have to consider many factors: age, criminal history, education, etc. Involuntarily manslaughter carries a maximum of 20 years. There is no question that you, Lavetta, suffer from battery women’s syndrome. No question that you lived in hell, but my review of reports and security camera footage sees the murder unjustified,” said Judge Urbom. “Your attorney argued domestic violence. The bottom line, you killed a man in cold blood. There is no way I can put you on probation. No one deserved to be murdered. Any less of a sentence I would impose would not be good.”

Lavetta Langdon did not have anything to say in court.

After the sentencing, Lavetta Langdon’s family and friends hugged her with tearful goodbyes.

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