Virginia mother of child who shot teacher sentenced to 21 months in prison

Deja Taylor
Deja Taylor

The mother of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher in the US state of Virginia has been sentenced to 21 months in prison on a drug charge linked to the gun used in the attack.

Deja Taylor, 26, pleaded guilty in June to using cannabis while owning a firearm. She still faces sentencing on a state charge of felony child neglect.

Her son brought the gun to school on 6 January in Newport News and shot teacher Abby Zwerner, injuring her.

Ms Zwerner is suing for $40m (£32m).

After the shooting, investigators found roughly 1oz (28g) of cannabis in Taylor’s home.

While the drug is legal in many states, including Virginia, it is illegal to own a gun and be an active drug user.

Taylor reportedly wiped away tears in court as Judge Mark Davis handed down the full term requested by prosecutors on Wednesday evening.

“This case cries out for imprisonment,” he said.

Abigail Zwerner
The lawsuit cites warning signs from the six-year-old boy school officials ignored (Image: Abigail Zwerner/Facebook)

 

One of Taylor’s attorneys read a brief statement from their client, in which she said she would feel remorse “for the rest of my life”.

Ms Zwerner read aloud a victim-impact statement at the hearing, talking about the physical and emotional toll the shooting had taken on her, according to the Associated Press news agency.

“I have nightmares of gore, blood and death – always involving a firearm,” she told the court.

She added that she had to have five surgeries to regain motion in her left hand and has suffered both emotionally and financially since the incident.

“I feel as if I’ve lost my purpose – I loved children,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I contend daily with deep emotional scars.”

Taylor faces a separate hearing in December on the child neglect charge.

In June, she negotiated a guilty plea in a federal court in Newport News, a military shipbuilding city.

Taylor was convicted on two counts: using marijuana while owning a gun and lying about her drug use on a federal form.

Her attorneys had asked for home confinement and probation. They have argued that Taylor needs therapy for mental health issues, including schizoaffective disorder, and treatment for marijuana addiction.

Ms Zwerner, who was shot in the hand and upper chest and spent two weeks in hospital, has filed a lawsuit against the Virginia school board.

She said Richneck Elementary School was aware of the child’s “history of random violence”, which she alleged was repeatedly ignored.

Earlier this month the school board lost a bid to dismiss the lawsuit, where they argued that her injuries fell exclusively under workers’ compensation.

The child, now aged seven, told police he obtained the firearm by mounting a drawer to reach his mom’s handbag on top of a dresser, where the handgun was kept.

Investigators also said they found evidence of frequent drug use in her text messages and paraphernalia around Taylor’s home.

The federal charge of using drugs while owning a firearm is relatively rare and has faced multiple court challenges for infringing upon constitutional rights to gun ownership.

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been charged with violating the same law.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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