OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
3:10 PM – Wednesday, November 15, 2023
The mother of a six-year-old boy who shot his first-grade elementary school teacher, Abby Zwerner, is set to be sentenced and could potentially face prison time for using marijuana while being in possession of a firearm.
Deja Taylor, the mother, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, according to officials.
On January 6th, Taylor’s son took her handgun to school at Richneck Elementary in Virginia and shot his first-grade teacher, Zwerner, in the classroom, leaving her severely wounded.
Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest and needed four separate surgeries, according to her legal team.
After the shooting, the child told a reading specialist who assessed him, “I shot that (expletive) dead,” and “I got my mom’s gun last night,” according to search warrants.
Less than two weeks after the shooting, investigators searched Taylor’s home and discovered an ounce of marijuana in her bedroom and proof of frequent drug use in her cell phone messaging history.
Court documents state that agents found marijuana and a box of ammunition in Taylor’s home, along with several other items. They also discovered marijuana when they searched Taylor’s mother’s residence, where Taylor was staying at the time.
According to documents, Taylor lied on the ATF form she completed when purchasing the firearm, claiming “she was not an unlawful user of marijuana or other controlled substances.”
“Federal prosecutors in Virginia asserted in court filings that Taylor’s “chronic, persistent and … life-affecting abuse extends this case far beyond any occasional and/or recreational use.”
“This case is not a marijuana case,” the federal prosecutors wrote. “It is a case that underscores the inherently dangerous nature and circumstances that arise from the caustic cocktail of mixing consistent and prolonged controlled substance use with a lethal firearm.”
In June, Taylor pleaded guilty in United States District Court to two federal firearm offenses, including using illegal drugs while owning a gun, and lying about her drug use when buying the gun.
According to court documents, Taylor’s attorneys stated they will request home confinement and probation. They maintained that Taylor should receive counseling for problems related to schizoaffective disorder, a condition whose symptoms are similar to those of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
“Ms. Taylor is deeply saddened, extremely despondent, and completely remorseful for the unintended consequences and mistakes that led to this horrible shooting,” Taylor’s attorneys said.
Her attorneys additionally mentioned that she needs treatment for marijuana addiction.
“Addiction is a disease and incarceration is not the cure,” her attorneys wrote.
Taylor’s guilty plea came nearly five months after the tragic shooting in January. She could serve a maximum sentence of 25 years for the two federal firearms charges. However, prosecutors pressed for 21 months in a “position on sentencing” document that was submitted last week. Taylor also entered a guilty plea to a state charge of child neglect, and her sentencing has been set for December.
Zwerner, 25, is suing the school system for $40 million, claiming administrations denied several warnings about the six-year-old boy possessing a gun.
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