The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia was sentenced Friday to two years in jail for felony child negligence, nearly a year after her son shot the instructor with her gun.
Deja Taylor was sentenced for the second time on Friday for the classroom shooting, which horrified the nation and rattled the military shipbuilding community of Newport News.
The state term she received Friday from Circuit Court Judge Christopher Papile was higher than what is recommended in state sentencing standards and harsher than a combined sentencing suggestion of six months agreed to in a plea deal by prosecutors and Taylor’s lawyers.
Taylor was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison in November for using marijuana while possessing a firearm, which is forbidden under US law. The sum of her state and federal penalties amounted to roughly four years in prison.
Taylor’s kid informed authorities that he obtained his mother’s 9mm handgun by climbing onto a drawer and climbing to the top of a dresser, where the firearm was in his mother’s purse. He hid the handgun in his backpack and then his pocket before shooting his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, in front of her class.
Taylor first informed police that she had secured her gun with a trigger lock, but no such lock was found.
Taylor pleaded guilty to felony negligence earlier this year. Local prosecutors agreed to drop a misdemeanor offense of recklessly storing a firearm as part of the plea agreement.
Taylor also entered a guilty plea to the federal marijuana-weapons offense. Following the incident, investigators discovered nearly an ounce of marijuana in Taylor’s bedroom.
One of Taylor’s attorneys, James Ellenson, stated earlier this year that there were ” mitigating circumstances” around the event, including Taylor’s miscarriages and postpartum depression. According to court filings, she has also been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a condition that shares symptoms with schizophrenia and bipolar illness.
Taylor expressed regret and apologized to Zwerner on ABC’s “Good Morning America“ in May.
“That is my son, so I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Taylor went on to say.
During Taylor’s sentencing hearing in federal court last month, one of her attorneys read out a brief statement in which Taylor expressed regret “for the rest of my life.”
Taylor’s bullet impacted Zwerner in the left hand and upper left chest, fracturing bones and puncturing a lung. Before falling into the school’s office, the teacher rushed her other students into the hallway.
When Zwerner and several other students escaped the classroom, Amy Kovac stepped inside, found the boy and the gun close to the floor, and kept the youngster in place until police arrived.
According to Kovac, the youngster confessed to police, “I shot that b**** dead” while being held. “I got my mom’s gun last night,” he also claimed, according to Kovac.
During Taylor’s federal sentencing, Zwerner informed the judge that she recalled losing consciousness while medics worked on her.
“I was not sure whether it would be my final moment on earth,” Zwerner was quoted as saying.
Zwerner was in the hospital for about two weeks and had five surgeries to restore motion to her left hand. She has difficulty putting on clothes or tying her shoes.
She is suing Newport News Public Schools for $40 million, claiming that administrators ignored numerous warnings that the youngster had a pistol. She admitted to the federal judge that she had lost her sense of self and had experienced “massive financial loss.”
“Our focus remains on justice for Abby and holding the school system accountable,” said attorney Diane Toscano in a statement to CBS News following the filing of the case.
Zwerner is no longer employed by the school system and no longer teaches. She stated that she adores children but is now terrified of working with them.
She goes to treatment and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as despair and anxiety.
“I live with deep emotional scars every day,” Zwerner explained.