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A northern Virginia mother who sedated her two young daughters with melatonin gummies before fatally shooting them in their beds has been sentenced to 78 years in prison for the horrific murders. On Friday, Veronica Youngblood, 38, received a lengthy sentence for the 2018 killings of her children Sharon Castro, 15, and Brooklynn Youngblood, 5.
Youngblood had plotted to kill the girls and herself during a custody dispute with her ex-husband. Sharon managed to call 911 after being shot and identify her mother as the attacker before dying. Jurors were so traumatized by the case they inquired about counseling.
The defense claimed insanity, but the jury rejected it and recommended 78 years after hearing of Youngblood's abusive childhood. She insisted something "exploded" in her mind, but the judge upheld the sentence, saying parents have an inviolable duty to protect their children that she egregiously violated.
Mother Sneakily Drugged Girls With Melatonin Before Killing
Youngblood fed her daughters melatonin-laced gummy bears to put them to sleep before shooting them in their beds in August 2018. Youngblood obtained the murder weapon just a week prior, evidencing elaborate premeditation according to prosecutors.
The girls' father Ron had reluctantly agreed to only take one daughter to Missouri amidst a difficult custody conflict. Authorities say Youngblood carefully planned the execution of both girls as revenge against her ex-husband. The chilling misuse of melatonin to secretly sedate her own children compounded the betrayal.
Youngblood Faces 78 Years For Each Child's Murder
Virginia jurors convicted Youngblood of two counts of first-degree murder after an extremely traumatic trial. Her insanity plea was rejected despite defense testimony on her abusive past.
While she claimed something inexplicable happened, prosecutors asserted the methodical planning showed clear premeditation. The consecutive 39-year sentences for each murder resulted in the 78-year prison term. Youngblood's attempt to have the terms run concurrently was denied.
Judge: No Greater Betrayal Than a Parent Killing a Child
The judge declared no parental responsibility exceeds protecting a child's safety. He said Youngblood becoming the instrument of her daughters' death represented a grave betrayal meriting stern punishment.
Youngblood's husband was devastated over losing his beloved girls violently to the one person entrusted to care for them. Prosecutors said the "depravity" of the executions demanded justice. Youngblood is expected to appeal.
Daughter's Chilling 911 Call Exposed Mother's Brutal Crime
Youngblood likely thought her scheme to drug and kill the children would go undetected. But Sharon's courageous 911 call sealed her fate.
The teenager's recorded voice identifying her own mother as the shooter before succumbing to her wounds provided chilling evidence of calculated murder. The call summoned first responders who found Brooklynn also dead.
Youngblood's Tortured Past Offers Clues but No Excuse
The defense presented Youngblood's traumatic history of poverty, abuse and exploitation in Argentina as mitigating factors. She claimed not understanding what happened.
But while her background provides insight, the calculated drugging and execution of two children in response to adult problems negated claims of a mental breakdown. Youngblood consciously enacted the sadistic plot after methodical planning.
Family Annihilators Seek Ultimate Revenge Through Murder
Experts say "family annihilators" who murder loved ones and themselves during crises can have personality disorders and notice violent tendencies. But the motive is typically vengeance.
Documents show Youngblood bore resentment against her ex-husband over losing custody. Killing his daughters took ultimate revenge while inflicting maximum suffering. But her failure to commit suicide after the murders proved catastrophic.
Youngblood's vile actions join other family annihilation cases where people turned on their own children and shattered the sacred parent-child bond. But meaningful clues explaining such profound evil remain elusive.
In the end, no rational explanation or punishment can undo Youngblood's choice to extinguish her daughters' futures in one deranged act. The judge focused on honoring Sharon and Brooklynn by imposing accountability for the ultimate crime.
While the motive ostensibly sought to punish their father, the sisters lost their lives for simply being children caught in an adult's web of pathology. The case illustrates the helpless dependence of children upon even unstable parents.
For the family and community, closure remains difficult as a single act instantaneously destroyed so much promise and joy. While the sentencing is concluding Youngblood's legal saga, the aftershocks of her horrific betrayal will painfully reverberate across many lives forever.
Summarised from the original article by - apnews.com
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