Crime /

Mother of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Virginia Teacher Pleads Guilty to Felony Child Neglect

Deja Taylor previously pleaded guilty to using marijuana while possessing a firearm

The mother of the Virginia first grader who shot his teacher had pleaded guilty to a charge related to the January attack at Richneck Elementary.

Deja Taylor appeared in court in Newport News on Aug. 15. Taylor was charged in April with one misdemeanor count of recklessly storing a firearm and one felony count of child neglect. After reaching a deal with prosecutors, Taylor only pleaded guilty to the child neglect charge.

Taylor previously said she kept her 9mm handgun in her purse with a trigger lock at the top of her bedroom closet and that the key was stored under her mattress. A trigger lock was not discovered during a search of her home, according to New York Daily News.

Prosecutors agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge and not to seek a sentence longer than the state’s sentencing guidelines. The felony charge is punishable by up to six months in jail or prison, per Fox News.

Law enforcement determined Taylor’s then-six-year-old son intentionally shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, who was critically injured after the bullet hit her hand and chest. She spent two weeks in the hospital but survived.

According to a search warrant that was unsealed last week, the child told a teacher who went into the classroom after hearing gunfire, I shot that b—- dead.

Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School District, alleging the school failed to implement safety measures and repeatedly ignored warnings about the boy’s behavior.

After the attack, the student’s family released a statement saying the child “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.”

“Our son has benefitted from an extensive community of care that also includes his grandparents working alongside us and other caregivers to ensure his needs and accommodations are met,” the family said, per WAVY. “The week of the shooting was the first week when we were not in class with him. We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”

Taylor pleaded guilty in June to illegally using drugs while owning a firearm and making false statements about using marijuana when she purchased a gun. 

According to the Department of Justice, the agents who searched Taylor’s home in January “discovered narcotics packaging, narcotics paraphernalia, marijuana, marijuana edible packaging, a box of ammunition, and a black firearm barrel lock” and “approximately 24.5 grams of marijuana, marijuana edible packaging, and marijuana paraphernalia” at her mother’s home, where she was staying. 

According to the statement released by the department in June:

The investigation also uncovered a police report from the Williamsburg Police Department which stated that on Saturday April 3, 2021, Taylor was pulled over during a traffic stop in a vehicle with two other persons, including John Doe, who was four years old at the time. The Williamsburg Police officer conducting the stop detected an overwhelming odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and marijuana was in plain view inside the vehicle. Several marijuana edibles that looked like rice treats were found inside the vehicle directly next to John Doe…

On July 19, 2022, Taylor purchased the Taurus handgun used in the shooting. She was required by law to complete the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Firearms Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473. She falsely stated on this form that she was not an unlawful user of marijuana or other controlled substances.

Although she face 25 years in prison, her attorney and prosecutors agreed to an 18- to 24-month sentence.

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