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Richneck shooter's mother sentenced on state child abuse charges

Deja Taylor arrives at federal court in Newport News with her attorney James Ellenson. (Photo by Laura Philion)
Deja Taylor arrives at federal court in Newport News with her attorney James Ellenson. (Photo by Laura Philion)
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Deja Taylor will serve two years in a state prison for child abuse and neglect, adding to her previous sentence of 21 months in federal prison.

Taylor’s six-year-old son took her unsecured gun to school in January, where he shot and seriously wounded his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, on January 6.

Taylor pleaded guilty to the state charges in August. She pleaded guilty to federal charges of illegally owning a firearm and lying on a federal form in June.

Taylor’s lawyer, James Ellenson, said in August he believed Taylor should get no jail time given mitigating factors, including domestic abuse, postpartum depression, anxiety and experiencing a series of miscarriages.

Prosecutors declined to charge Taylor's son, referred to as John Doe in court documents. He's now living with his great-grandfather and is undergoing therapy.

Per separate juvenile court orders, Taylor can’t have unsupervised contact with her son until he’s 18. His great-grandfather, Calvin Taylor, will determine what kind of contact they have before then.

Zwerner read a victim impact statement at the sentencing.

“This permanent damage should never have been allowed to happen to me,” she told the court.

She said she can’t teach anymore.

“I loved children. And now I’m scared to have a job involving them.”

Zwerner is suing the local school system, saying officials failed to heed repeated warnings that the child had a gun. 

A Newport news judge ruled that the lawsuit can proceed last month.

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