Mother Pleads Guilty to Felony Child Neglect in Virginia Classroom Shooting Case

Deja Taylor, the mother of a 6-year-old who shot his teacher in a Virginia classroom, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of felony child neglect. The incident occurred seven months ago when the child used Taylor’s handgun to critically wound teacher Abby Zwerner in a classroom full of students. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge of reckless storage of a firearm against Taylor. The plea agreement also ensures that the sentence will not exceed the state sentencing guidelines, which call for six months in jail or prison.

The January shooting shocked the nation and caused upheaval in Newport News, Virginia. The case against Taylor is one of three legal efforts seeking accountability, including a $40 million lawsuit filed by Zwerner against the school system, accusing them of gross negligence. The first grader intentionally shot Zwerner as she sat at a reading table during a lesson, hitting her in the hand and chest. Zwerner spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries.

After the shooting, the child reportedly told a reading specialist who restrained him that he had shot the teacher and had obtained the gun from his mother. The gun was found in the child’s backpack, which had shark images on it. However, it remains unclear how the 6-year-old gained access to the firearm. Taylor claimed that she believed the gun was secured with a trigger lock in her purse, which was placed on top of her bedroom dresser. However, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not find a trigger lock during their searches.

In a separate federal case, Taylor previously pleaded guilty to using marijuana while possessing a firearm, which is illegal under U.S. law. Her attorney, James Ellenson, mentioned “mitigating circumstances” in April, including Taylor’s miscarriages and postpartum depression before the shooting. Taylor expressed her remorse and took responsibility for her son’s actions, citing his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and the change in his care plan that led to the absence of a parent in the classroom during the week of the shooting.


Author: CrimeDoor

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