FAIRFAX, Va. – A mother from northern Virginia, who drugged her two daughters with melatonin-infused gummy bears before shooting them, was handed a 78-year prison sentence on Friday. Veronica Youngblood, 38, was apprehended in August 2018 after she shot her daughters, 15-year-old Sharon Castro and 5-year-old Brooklynn Youngblood, in their McLean apartment.
The tragic incident unfolded after a prolonged custody dispute. Youngblood confessed to detectives that she had intended to kill her daughters and herself. Her ex-husband, Ron Youngblood, revealed that he had initially planned to relocate to Missouri with both daughters but agreed to take only Brooklynn after his ex-wife protested.
The court heard that Youngblood administered the sleep-inducing gummies to her daughters before shooting them in their beds. Sharon survived long enough to dial 911 and inform the dispatcher that her mother had shot her. The distressing call was played during the two-week trial, leaving the jurors so traumatized that they sought trauma therapy.
Youngblood’s defense team presented an insanity plea at the trial, but it was dismissed. The jury recommended a 78-year prison sentence after hearing testimony that Youngblood had a troubled upbringing in Argentina, where she lived in poverty, suffered physical and sexual abuse, and resorted to sex work as a teenager to support her older daughter.
Before her sentencing, Youngblood spoke for over half an hour about her daughters and the challenges she faced raising them. She told the judge through a Spanish interpreter, “I’ve been a good mother, but something happened, I don’t know how to explain it. Something exploded in my mind.”
The defense requested that the two murder sentences run concurrently, which would have reduced the sentence from 78 years to 42 years. However, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows saw no reason to lessen the jury’s recommendation. He stated, “Mothers and fathers have many responsibilities, but none is more grave than keeping their children safe. Tragically, their mother became the instrument of their death.”
Prosecutor Kelsey Gill underscored that the murders were premeditated, and Youngblood had purchased the gun she used a week prior. Public defender Dawn Butorac indicated that Youngblood is expected to appeal.