A 33-year-old Virginia mother accused of fatally shooting her young daughter was held without bond following an arraignment Tuesday before a Fairfax County judge.
Veronica Youngblood of McLean is charged with murder in the death of 5-year-old Brooklynn Michelle Youngblood. The shooting occurred about 10:15 p.m. Sunday at an apartment in the Tysons area. Another juvenile, whom police did not identify, was wounded, authorities said.
At her arraignment in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Tuesday, Youngblood participated through a video monitor. She was very quiet and looked down frequently. Judge August Steinhilber at one point asked her to look up and speak louder.
She answered, “I can’t look at [the] monitor.” The judge confirmed that she was being charged with killing her daughter and said she could face “jail time.”
Steinhilber said, “I know this must be difficult for you.”
After the judge told her she had the right to legal counsel, Youngblood said she didn’t want an attorney.
“Do you understand this is a very serious charge?” Steinhilber asked.
“I don’t want a counsel,” Youngblood replied. The judge told her the court would appoint a public defender and recommended that she cooperate and “keep an open mind.”
Youngblood was taken into custody without incident in Leesburg on Sunday night, officials said. Police said they found a gun that they believe was involved in the shooting when she was arrested.
Youngblood, her ex-husband, their daughter Brooklynn and Youngblood’s teenage daughter were scheduled to move this month to central Missouri, Fairfax court records show. But Youngblood changed her mind and wanted to stay in Virginia with Brooklynn. Last month, a Fairfax judge rejected that idea.
Court records show that Veronica Kaczuba, born and raised in Argentina, married Ronald G. Youngblood, a career Navy officer, in Las Vegas in July 2009. Veronica had one daughter from a prior relationship, documents show, and Brooklynn was born in November 2012. Both children lived with the Youngbloods.
Ronald Youngblood and his family members could not be reached for comment.
The Youngbloods’ marriage had its rocky moments, the court records state. While Ronald Youngblood, now 47, was stationed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 2014, the couple was subject to “emergency removal” after an incident between them. Veronica Youngblood said in a court filing that the incident involved arguments between the couple that led her to seek help at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
The couple returned first to Florida, where they separated in January 2015 and initially filed for divorce, according to Fairfax court records. When Ronald Youngblood was transferred to the Navy’s offices at the Navy Yard in Washington in July 2015, the couple continued to live together in a townhouse in Oakton, Va. Ronald Youngblood said in a court filing this was done to enable them to raise the children together and because Veronica Youngblood did not have a full-time job.
The couple filed for divorce again in Fairfax in February 2016. Court records show they continued to struggle with their relationship. Soon after the divorce filing, Veronica Youngblood apparently applied for a student loan and listed her husband as a co-signer without his knowledge, the divorce file shows.
As a trial was about to begin in September 2016, the parties began to settle the case. They agreed to continue to live together in Oakton and share custody of Brooklynn, with no child or spousal support payments ordered, court records show.
Still, strife ensued. In October 2016, with the divorce case still pending, Veronica Youngblood allegedly tossed her husband’s cellphone in a toilet, splashed water on his laptop and scratched his car, according to a motion Ronald Youngblood filed.
Then on Oct. 20, 2016, court records show, Ronald Youngblood went to the Fairfax juvenile and domestic relations court and obtained a family abuse protective order against Veronica Youngblood. She was ordered out of the Oakton residence and to stay 500 feet away from Ronald Youngblood pending a hearing two weeks later. The results of that hearing were not available.
While the protective order was still in place, the divorce was finalized on Oct. 31, 2016, court records show.
The official record is quiet for the divorced, cohabiting couple until March of this year, when they filed a 14-page joint consent order. The order notified the court that the couple would be moving to Sedalia, Mo., about Aug. 1, with Brooklynn and Veronica Youngblood’s teenage daughter.
The former couple agreed that Veronica Youngblood would get her own apartment, within 30 miles of her ex-husband, and that he would pay the rent for the next three years. The parents told the court they would share custody of Brooklynn.
Less than a month later, on April 13, Veronica Youngblood had a change of heart. She hired a new lawyer to request the custody order be amended, court records show. She said that since the entry of the March order, she had been offered a new job that would pay her a full-time salary and allow her to remain in Virginia. She also said that she was “in the process of relocating to a new residence” to live apart from her ex-husband and support herself without his help. She sought full custody of Brooklynn.
The dispute went to a hearing on July 3 before Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Gardiner. Both Youngbloods testified, court records show. Gardiner then ruled that he found “no material change in circumstance” and declined to change the March order that both sides had signed.
Ten days later, Ronald Youngblood filed a notice with the court of his new address in Sedalia, effective Wednesday.
Youngblood is scheduled to have another court hearing in the murder case in October.
Justin Jouvenal and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.