Mother of First-Grader Who Shot Teacher Receives 2-Year Prison Sentence

The child shot Abby Zwerner with a 9 mm handgun at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News on Jan. 6.

The mother of a 6-year-old Virginia boy involved in the January shooting of his first-grade teacher was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday (Dec. 15.), according to CNN

Deja Taylor, who previously pleaded guilty to a state charge of felony child neglect in August, received the sentence from Circuit Court Judge Christopher Papile in Newport News. Taylor's 7-year-old son used her gun to shoot his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, at Richneck Elementary School, leaving her with injuries to her hand and chest.

Taylor's attorney, James Ellenson, informed CNN that the commonwealth recommended a six-month sentence and that it doesn’t plan to appeal the state sentence. Ellenson expressed his belief that the sentence was excessive and harsh, emphasizing that Taylor was visibly upset and cried in court when the sentence was delivered.

In addition to the two-year state sentence, Taylor is concurrently serving 21 months for two federal felony charges related to the unlawful use of a controlled substance while possessing a firearm and making a false statement during the firearm purchase. Ellenson speculated that the judge aimed to underscore the seriousness of the child neglect charge in comparison to the federal charges. 

Zwerner, present at the sentencing, reiterated her traumatic experience in the victim statement, detailing the impact of the shooting on her life.

“I lost myself following the shooting. I could barely communicate with my friends and family. This permanent damage should never have been allowed to happen to me and would not have happened if not for the defendant’s actions or lack thereof,” she said. 

The former teacher filed a $40 million lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools, alleging negligence and ignoring warning signs regarding the student's "history of random violence." Despite the school board's attempt to dismiss the suit, a judge ruled it can proceed.

Zwerner also spoke about the physical and emotional toll of the incident, including five surgeries, numerous physical therapy sessions and the strain on her family. She laid blame on Taylor's actions, stating that the permanent damage would not have occurred without the defendant's actions, or lack thereof.

Taylor, who purchased the gun used in the shooting, claimed to have kept it secured in her bedroom closet with a trigger lock. However, authorities found no trigger lock or key during a search of Taylor's residence, contradicting her earlier statements. 

Despite having no criminal record, Taylor accepted responsibility for the shooting and apologized to Zwerner in a May interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."


Mother Of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Teacher In Virginia Classroom Takes Responsibility For Shooting

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