The mother of a 6-year-old Virginia boy who shot his teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of felony child neglect, seven months after her son used her handgun to wound the educator critically in a classroom full of students. Prosecutors agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge of reckless storage of a firearm against Deja Taylor. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will not seek seek a sentence that is longer than state sentencing guidelines, which call for six months in jail or prison, reports the Associated Press. A judge will decide the length of Taylor’s sentence. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 27. Taylor was charged in April with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly storing of a firearm.
The January shooting shocked the nation and roiled the shipbuilding city of Newport News near the Chesapeake Bay. The case against Taylor is one of three legal efforts seeking accountability, including the teacher’s $40 million lawsuit that accuses the school system of gross negligence. Police said the first grader intentionally shot teacher Abby Zwerner as she sat at a reading table during a lesson. Zwerner, who was hit in the hand and chest, spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and has endured multiple surgeries. Police said the student brought the gun to school in his backpack. During Taylor’s plea hearing Tuesday, a prosecutor said the boy told authorities he got the gun by climbing onto a drawer to reach the top of a dresser, where the gun was stored in his mother’s purse.