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Trial for Melissa Youngblood begins Jan. 28 at Eminence

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Doniphan Prospect-News Staff Writer

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Shannon County for the trial of a Ripley County woman charged in the 2010 deaths of Edgar Atkinson and Bonnie Chase.

Melissa Youngblood, 35, is one of four people charged with the murders. She will be tried separately. She was not charged in a second murder case in which the other three also were charged.

Atkinson, 81, and Chase, 69, were found shot to death inside their burning home in July 2010 near County Road N-2 southeast of Doniphan. Their deaths occurred about two weeks after another Ripley County couple, Loyd and Gladys Piatt, were found dead inside their burning home on County Road 160W-1, west of Doniphan. First suspected of being an accidental fire, it later was determined the Piatts also died from gunshot wounds.

Melissa Youngblood's husband, David Youngblood, already is serving a life sentence without parole at the Missouri Department of Corrections at Bonne Terre after pleading guilty June 4 to the four murders. David Youngblood was a nephew of the Piatts.

The Youngblood's daughter, Chantale, and her boyfriend, Keith Boyles, still are awaiting trial on four counts of first-degree murder involving both cases.

Melissa Youngblood will be tried by Circuit Judge David Paul Evans. Prosecution will be directed by assistant attorney general Kevin Zoellner. Her court-appointed attorney is Donna Kay Anthony of West Plains.

The defendant faces two counts of first-degree murder as well as charges of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action.

Authorities believe the four went to the Atkinson home to steal a gun collection. Chantale Youngblood had worked at odd jobs for the couple and was believed to be familiar with the residence. Now 20 years old, she is being held at the Jefferson County Jail at Hillsboro. She is scheduled for trial beginning July 29 in Franklin County Circuit Court at Union, Mo.

No trial date has been set for Boyles, 20, whose case was delayed while he underwent a mental evaluation and treatment for depression at the request of his public defenders. He is being held at the Butler County Jail. His next scheduled court appearance is Feb. 5 before Judge Michael Pritchett in Butler County Circuit Court. Several motions are expected to be heard at that time.

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