Mother Who Sedated and Fatally Shot Daughters Sentenced to 78 Years in Prison

Veronica Youngblood, a Northern Virginia mother, has been sentenced to 78 years in prison for sedating her two daughters with melatonin-laced gummy bears before fatally shooting them in August 2018.

Youngblood, aged 38 at the time of her arrest, shot her daughters, 15-year-old Sharon Castro and 5-year-old Brooklynn Youngblood, in their McLean apartment. Sharon managed to call 911 after being shot and informed the dispatcher that her mother had shot her. The call was played during a traumatic two-week trial, which prompted jurors to inquire about receiving trauma therapy.

Youngblood told detectives that she had planned to kill her daughters and herself following a prolonged custody dispute. Her ex-husband, Ron Youngblood, had sought to move to Missouri with both daughters but had agreed to take only Brooklynn after his ex-wife's objection.

Before shooting her daughters, Youngblood gave them melatonin-laced gummy bears as a sleeping aid.

Youngblood presented an insanity defense at trial, which was ultimately rejected. The jury recommended a 78-year prison sentence for her. During the sentencing phase, evidence was presented that Youngblood had grown up in poverty in Argentina, experienced physical and sexual abuse as a child, and resorted to sex work as a teenager to support her older daughter.

Youngblood spoke for more than 30 minutes before sentencing, discussing her daughters and her struggles as a mother. She expressed confusion about her actions, stating, "Something exploded in my mind."

Defense lawyers had requested concurrent sentences for the two murder charges, which would have reduced the total sentence to 42 years. However, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows upheld the jury's recommendation, citing the gravity of the crimes.

Prosecutor Kelsey Gill emphasized the premeditated nature of the killings and Youngblood's purchase of the murder weapon a week prior to the incident.

Ron Youngblood, the father of Brooklynn and a significant figure in raising Sharon, described the pain of listening to Youngblood's words in court and expressed shock at her actions. He chose a seat where he couldn't see his ex-wife during the proceedings.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano issued a statement, acknowledging that the sentence could not bring the children back but emphasizing that it provided some measure of justice for the family.

Youngblood's defense team expects her to appeal the verdict.