Mother of Child Shooter Sentenced to 2 Years for Child Neglect in Virginia Teacher Incident


In a harrowing incident that shocked the nation and rattled the military shipbuilding city of Newport News, the mother of a 6-year-old who shot his teacher in Virginia, Deja Taylor, was sentenced to two years in prison for felony child neglect.

This sentencing, which occurred on Friday, marked the second time Taylor was held accountable for the classroom shooting that sent shockwaves across the country.

Circuit Court Judge Christopher Papile handed down a sentence stiffer than state guidelines, and it was harsher than the joint recommendation of six months from prosecutors and Taylor’s lawyers as part of a plea deal.

Taylor had already been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison in November for using marijuana while owning a gun, a violation of U.S. law. The combination of her state and federal sentences amounts to a total punishment of nearly four years behind bars.

The tragic incident unfolded when Taylor’s son accessed her 9mm handgun, shooting his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, in front of the class.

The child revealed that he obtained the gun by climbing onto a dresser to reach his mom’s purse, where the firearm was stored. He concealed the weapon in his backpack and then his pocket before firing at Zwerner.

Initially, Taylor claimed she had secured her gun with a trigger lock, but investigators found no evidence of one. She pleaded guilty to felony neglect, and as part of the plea deal, local prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor count of recklessly storing a firearm.

Taylor also pleaded guilty to a federal marijuana-weapons charge, as investigators discovered nearly an ounce of marijuana in her bedroom following the shooting.

James Ellenson, one of Taylor’s attorneys, cited “mitigating circumstances,” including Taylor’s miscarriages, postpartum depression, and a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which shares symptoms with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

During her federal sentencing last month, Taylor expressed remorse, stating that she would feel it “for the rest of my life.” She apologized to Zwerner, who suffered severe injuries, including a bullet breaking bones and puncturing a lung.

Zwerner underwent multiple surgeries and filed a $40 million lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools, alleging negligence in handling warnings about the child having a gun.

Zwerner, who no longer works for the school system, has faced ongoing emotional and physical struggles. Diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety, she contends daily with deep emotional scars.

The focus remains on justice for Zwerner and holding the school system accountable, according to attorney Diane Toscano. The incident underscores the importance of responsible gun ownership and raises questions about school safety measures.

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