On Monday, the attorney for the mother of the 6-year-old boy who carried a gun to school and shot his first-grade teacher in January in Newport News, Virginia, announced that she would plead guilty to new federal criminal counts in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors.
The federal lawsuit alleges that 26-year-old mother Deja Taylor made a false statement in order to purchase a firearm, specifically a semiautomatic handgun, and that she was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time.
Taylor’s attorney, James Ellenson, stated that “agreed procedure which eliminated the need for the government to take the case to a grand jury.” “Our action follows very constructive negotiations we had with federal authorities. The terms of the agreement, which we believe to be fair to all parties, will be disclosed when we enter the guilty plea,” Ellenson said.
By the end of the week or early next week, Ellenson says, Taylor will formally enter her guilty plea. He praised the US attorney’s office for “its good faith participation in discussions” and said he would be submitting “mitigating evidence.” Taylor faces both federal and state charges after being indicted on one count of leaving a firearm where a kid could be injured or killed by accident.
The below tweet verifies the news:
The mother of a 6-year-old boy who brought a gun to school and shot his first-grade teacher in January in Newport News, Virginia, will plead guilty to new federal felony charges as part of a deal with prosecutors, her attorney said. https://t.co/A3KWxKvwfk
— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2023
Five months after a 6-year-old student shot and killed his 25-year-old teacher at Richneck Elementary School, federal charges have been filed. Both her hand and her chest were shot, yet she managed to pull through. According to what Ellenson told CNN in January, Taylor bought the rifle and put it on the top shelf of her bedroom closet, locked with a trigger lock.
According to the police report, the boy had the gun in his backpack while at school. Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn has announced there would be no criminal charges brought against the minor. The federal complaint filed on Monday alleges that when Taylor purchased the weapon, she “knowingly made a false and fictitious statement” to the licensed firearms dealer.
“When in fact… she was an unlawful user of marijuana,” the complaint alleges, she lied on federal documents claiming she didn’t use drugs. Possession for personal use was decriminalized in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2021, although federal law still prohibits it.
According to court documents filed by the US Attorney’s office, if Taylor is found guilty on the federal counts, she will be required to turn over all ammunition and firearms involved in the violation. According to an earlier statement made by Ellenson, Taylor does not have a criminal history and has been cooperative since the shooting.
In April, following the state accusations, she voluntarily surrendered to authorities and was released after posting bond in the amount of $5,000. “As always, first and foremost is the continued health and wellbeing of all persons involved in the incident at Richneck Elementary School, to include both the teacher and Deja’s son,” the statement said.
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According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, his office has requested that the Circuit Court convene a special grand jury to look into “any security issues that may have contributed to the shooting.”
In April, Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district, claiming that administrators and the school board knew about the student’s “history of random violence” and failed to take preventative measures when they learned that the child was carrying a pistol.
The family has released a statement explaining that their son has an “acute disability” and was expected to have a parent present at school with him, despite being alone on the day of the shooting. We will always be sad that we had to miss this moment in history.
If you want to stay abreast of events in the Golden State, the California Examiner is your best bet.