Fairfax Co. mother to use insanity defense for 2018 shooting deaths of 2 daughters

Potential jurors were told Monday that a Fairfax County, Virginia, woman charged with killing her 5- and 15-year-old daughters in their McLean apartment in 2018 will use an insanity defense.

During jury selection Monday, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows told members of  the jury pool that Veronica Youngblood‘s public defenders will argue that she’s not guilty by reason of insanity — Virginia’s version of an insanity defense.

During the proceedings, Youngblood, now 37, sat at the defense table in a dark suit, listening to a Spanish translation through a headset.

Youngblood is accused of shooting her daughters, 5-year-old Brooklynn Youngblood and 15-year-old Sharon Castro, in their home in August 2018. Youngblood was indicted in 2019 on two counts of murder and two counts of the use of a firearm during the commission of murder.

In pretrial motions, public defender Dawn Butorac said on the night Youngblood’s children were killed, “She also intended to kill herself that night but did not follow through with that plan.”

Potential jurors have not heard of any of these details about Youngblood’s past. When Bellows asked if any of the first 50 potential jurors had heard of Youngblood’s case, none said they had.

Prosecutors have not stated a motive for the killings, although Youngblood and her husband were in a custody battle after a contentious divorce. All four family members were scheduled to move to Missouri — a move Youngblood opposed, according to divorce records.

Charging documents in the case say Youngblood has acknowledged her involvement in the girl’s deaths, and provided a detailed description of the events. She was arrested at a friend’s home in Loudoun County.

WTOP reported in June 2020, that a court-appointed psychologist to examine Youngblood’s mental health suggested she may be feigning or exaggerating mental illness.

The trial is expected to take three weeks. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up