FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A McLean woman convicted of shooting her two young daughters to death had to be cleared from the courtroom after she had a screaming outburst while jurors considered her sentencing.
Veronica Youngblood was found guilty Wednesday of murdering her 15-year-old daughter, Sharon Castro, and 5-year-old daughter, Brooklynn Youngblood, inside their Fairfax County apartment in August 2018. The 37-year-old mother was back in court Thursday for the penalty phase of her trial, but ultimately had to be taken out of the room after she leapt up and began shouting at prosecutors.
"No, no, no!" Youngblood yelled, as deputies wrestled her out of the courtroom.
She kept screaming from the lockup as the judge cleared the room.
Fairfax County Asst. Commonwealth's Kelsey Gill had just told jurors that Youngblood is a murderer, not a victim. Gill was describing all the life experiences her children missed because their mother murdered them, when Youngblood jumped up and rushed into the well of the courtroom. A deputy grabbed her in a bear hug as she kept screaming.
Earlier in the day, Youngblood had taken the stand and wept as she described her own brutal upbringing. But she wasn't the only one in tears. Jurors were openly weeping, dabbing tissues at their face as she testified.
Youngblood described raising Sharon in Argentina, piercing her ears, but not having enough money to buy her clothes or food. She remembered celebrating both her girls' birthdays, and their matching brown eyes.
She spoke of how her own mother and father beat her until she couldn't walk as a child. Her father, Youngblood said, hit her every day with a belt, a broomstick and a branch. She said her grandfather repeatedly abused her sexually as a child.
Youngblood said her parents abandoned her and her younger sister when she was just a teenager, alone in Buenos Aires. She’d gone into sex work when she met her ex-husband, Ron Youngblood. They moved to the U.S., and he deployed overseas as a Navy pilot.
“Why did you leave me?” Youngblood asked her ex, who sat stoically in the back of the courtroom. “Why did you leave me alone with the girls? None of this would have happened!”
On the day of the murders, Veronica Youngblood fed her daughters sleeping pill gummies, and then shot Brooklynn in the head and Sharon in the back and chest, with a handgun she'd bought days earlier. Sharon was able to call 911 and tell first responders her mother had shot her. She died at the hospital; Brooklynn was pronounced dead at the scene.
Veronica Youngblood called her ex-husband after the shooting, leaving a message that she’d killed the girls and that she hated him. Ron Youngblood told jurors of his own pain, recalling how Brooklyn loved animals and how Sharon made him a Father’s Day collage that he still keeps as the screensaver on his phone.
Ron Youngblood said he built memorials for the girls both in Chantilly and in his hometown in Missouri. They’re inscribed, “children are true miracles.”
The judge sent the jurors home for then night after Veronica Youngblood's outburst. Her public defender expects the jail to put her on suicide watch, at least overnight.
Gill is slated to continue her closing argument in the penalty phase Friday Jurors will decide on a sentence between 20 years and life for the deaths of each child; Gill is seeking two life terms.
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