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Mother of 6-year-old who shot his teacher pleads guilty to state charge of felony child neglect

Aug 15, 2023, 10:18 AM

Deja Taylor arrives with attorney James Ellenson at the Newport News Sheriff's Office in April.

Deja Taylor arrives with attorney James Ellenson at the Newport News Sheriff's Office in April. Mandatory Credit: Billy Schuerman/Daily Press/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

(CNN) — Deja Taylor, the mother of the Virginia 6-year-old who shot his first-grade teacher in January, pleaded guilty to a charge of felony child neglect Tuesday.

The charge has a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison. However, per a plea agreement, prosecutors have said they will not seek a punishment beyond the sentencing guidelines of six months.

Judge Chris Papile said he reserves the right to sentence outside that recommendation.

Taylor’s 6-year-old son shot his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, on January 6 at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, leaving her with wounds to her hand and chest.

As part of a plea deal, Taylor previously pleaded guilty to federal gun charges. Sentencing on those charges will take place on October 18.

Taylor’s sentencing on the state charge is scheduled for October 27.

Taylor purchased the gun and kept it on the top shelf of her bedroom closet, secured by a trigger lock, her attorney James Ellenson told CNN in January. Police said her son brought the gun to school in his backpack.

The 6-year-old, now in the custody of his great-grandfather, will not be criminally charged, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn has said.

Taylor has no criminal record and has cooperated with authorities since the shooting, Ellenson said in an earlier statement. Taylor turned herself in to police in April after the filing of state charges and was released after posting $5,000 bond.

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Mother of 6-year-old who shot his teacher pleads guilty to state charge of felony child neglect