FAIRFAX, Va. — A Fairfax County jury spent hours Friday debating an appropriate sentence for the troubled McLean mom who murdered her two young children in 2018, but failed to agree on a verdict by late afternoon and will come back Monday to continue deliberating.
Questions they sent out from the closed door jury room suggested they were considering some mercy for Veronica Youngblood, who shot to death her daughters, Sharon, 15, and Brooklynn, 5.
The now-convicted child killer had a brutal upbringing. Youngblood told jurors she was sexually molested by her grandfather, beaten daily with branches, belts, and a broomstick by her father, and then abandoned by both her parents. She l forced into sex work as a teenager to feed her baby and support her younger sister.
Her lawyers urged jurors to consider that, and the mental illness may have brought on, as they debated a sentence in the murders of her daughters.
A day after deputies dragged Veronica Youngblood screaming from the courtroom, jurors, who were seen weeping repeatedly during the trial, spent hours behind closed doors in the jury room, but have failed so far to agree on her punishment.
Prosecutors had argued for two life terms plus, saying Yongblood was motivated by vengeance: killing Sharon and Brooklynn to get back at her ex husband.
“Why did you leave me alone with the girls?” she shouted at her ex-husband Thursday from the witness stand. “None of this would have happened!”
She seemingly blamed Ron Youngblood for the murders she committed with a handgun she’d bought days earlier.
Youngblood fed the girls sleeping pills at her McLean apartment and then shot 5 year old Brooklynn in the head, and 15 year old Sharon in the back and in the chest.
Sharon made a desperate call to 911 before she died. Prosecutors played the chilling call to a tear-filled courtroom during the trial.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Andy Elders urged jurors to recommend the minimum sentence, 46 years, which would be 20 for each murder, and the mandatory minimum 3 years for each of the cub charges.
“Trauma creates trauma, hate creates hate, victims create victims,” he said, asking jurors to balance the horrific crime against the mitigation of Youngblood’s mental illness and mental trauma.
Fairfax County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kelsey Gill told jurors Youngblood is a murderer, not a victim. That she stole from her daughters’ all the milestones yet to come.
Ron Youngblood recounted his continuing pain. How Brooklyn loved animals. How he and Sharon made silly faces for the camera. How Sharon made him a Father’s Day collage he still keeps as the screensaver on his phone.
How he built the girls memorials in Chantilly and his hometown in Missouri, inscribed with the words, “children are miracles.”
Jurors sent out three questions: About whether Veronica Youngblood has been jailed since her arrest; about parole; and about whether she would serve the sentences consecutively.
All those questions seemed to suggest they might be debating something less than the maximum.
But the judge only sent back a note instructing them that they should ignore them all.