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Mother of six-year-old who shot teacher fails drug tests while on bond awaiting sentencing

A Virginia mother, whose son shot his first grade teacher, allegedly failed multiple drug tests while awaiting sentencing, prompting prosecutors to ask the judge to revoke her bond.

Deja Taylor, whose then six-year-old boy shot Abby Zwerner on 6 January 2023 in Newport News, Virginia, pleaded guilty in June to federal charges: possessing marijuana while having a gun and filing false information on the paperwork she submitted when purchasing the firearm.

On 1 September, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Ms Taylor’s bond, accusing her of not following the conditions of the release, “including conditions that she not violate federal, state, or local law; refrain from the unlawful use and possession of narcotic or controlled substances; submit to substance abuse treatment as directed; and submit to substance abuse testing as directed.”

The government said Ms Taylor violated two conditions —breaking federal law and using and possessing controlled substances — when she tested positive for “both marijuana and cocaine during drug testing on July 19 and August 25, 2023.”

On top of these violations, the prosecutors also stated that Ms Taylor failed to attend two of her scheduled substance abuse treatment sessions in August. Furthermore, on two other occasions in August, Ms Taylor “failed to report to phase testing.”

The prosecutors said the violations were “serious in nature” and “call into question the defendant’s danger to the community, respect for the law and this Court’s Orders, and gives the United States no faith that the defendant will abide by the terms of her court supervision since her conduct is repeated and not merely one mistake.”

A lawyer for Ms Taylor, James Ellenson, told The Virginian-Pilot that he intended to urge the federal judge against revoking his client’s bond.

“Deja, like so many Americans, has difficult substance abuse issues,” he told the outlet. “We would ask that compassion and understanding be the order of the day.”

Separately, Ms Taylor pleaded guilty to a state charge of felony child neglect in August.

The boy allegedly took the weapon from his family’s home, placed it in his backpack and took it to the school, where he allegedly opened fire and wounded Ms Zwerner.

In June, Ms Taylor said she was “obviously willing to take responsibility for him — because he can’t take responsibility for himself.”