The mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his first grade teacher in Virginia earlier this year will plead guilty to new federal charges related to her owning the gun the boy used.
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Deja Taylor was charged in federal court Monday with illegally using drugs while owning a firearm and making a false statement when she purchased the gun claiming she was not an unlawful drug user despite using marijuana, court records show.
Taylor will plead guilty to the charges, her attorney James Ellenson told USA TODAY.
PREVIOUSLY:Mother of 6-year-old who shot teacher apologizes; can’t explain how he got the gun.
What happened in the Newport News shooting?
Taylor’s son, who has not been identified, shot first grade teacher Abigail Zwerner on Jan. 6 at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia, a city of about 185,000 residents known for its ties to shipbuilding for the U.S. Navy.
Authorities have said the boy used his mother’s gun and shot Zwerner as she was reading to students in her classroom. She was shot in the hand and chest and has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district alleging gross negligence. The district was warned repeatedly on the day of the shooting that the boy might have a gun, the suit alleges.
TEACHERS AND GUNS IN AMERICA:Most US teachers think schools would be less safe if they were armed, survey finds.
While prosecutors have said the child would not face any charges, his mother was arrested in April and charged in state court with felony child neglect and recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child, a misdemeanor.
Pleas expected to be entered next week
Ellenson said in a statement that Taylor’s legal team will present “mitigating evidence” they hope will be taken into consideration during sentencing for the new federal firearms charges.
Prosecutors for the federal charges filed Monday declined to comment about the charges or terms of a plea agreement on Tuesday.
Ellenson said he had “very constructive negotiations with federal authorities” about the plea. Gene Rossi, another attorney representing Taylor, said the pleas would be entered in court on June 12.
Ellenson said the shooting was a tragedy for all involved, especially Zwerner, “for whom we wish a complete recovery.”.
“This case is a Shakespearian tragedy. A perfect storm that has had horrible consequences,” Rossi told USA TODAY on Tuesday. “A vulnerable teacher whose life was almost taken. A boy 6 years of age. And a mother whose life will never be the same.”.
Mother has said she accepts responsibility
Taylor has previously said she accepts responsibility for her son’s actions. She told “Good Morning America” last month that she couldn’t explain how the boy got ahold of her gun, which her lawyers previously said was secured with a trigger lock and stored on a high shelf in her closet.
“I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility,” Taylor said last month.
Taylor said her son has ADHD. Zwerner’s lawsuit said the boy had a history of behavioral challenges and violence toward teachers, including a previous incident when he choked a teacher.
The family of the boy previously has said that he was usually accompanied to class by a parent as part of a care plan with the school, but that the week of the shooting was the first week nobody accompanied him because his behavior had improved.
The school district has said in response to Zwerner’s lawsuit that her injuries fall under the state’s workers compensation.