The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in a Newport News, Virginia, elementary school appeared in court for the first time Friday after being charged in the incident.
Deja Taylor did not enter a plea to charges of child neglect and recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child, according to Taylor’s lawyer.
Additionally, James Ellenson, Taylor’s attorney, told CNN his client has been granted a bench trial, instead of a jury trial, and it’s scheduled to begin August 15. A grand jury indicted Taylor on the charges related to the January 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School, the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney announced Monday. The boy is not being criminally charged.
Ellenson said that without a jury trial more evidence is permissible. He said he plans to try to work out a plea deal for Taylor before the trial starts.
Ellenson told CNN he will cite Taylor’s several miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy in January 2022 and post-partum depression as “mitigating factors.”
The attorney also confirmed that adults were required to sit with the child in class earlier in the school year from September to December 2022, and that he was often accompanied by Taylor or her father, and sometimes the boy’s father.
According to Ellenson, during the week of January 3rd, school administrators determined that parents no longer needed to accompany the boy to school. His teacher, Abigail Zwerner, was shot in her classroom on January 6th.
Contacted by CNN, the Newport News School District declined to comment on that assertion by Ellenson.
In her lawsuit against school administrators, Zwerner alleges that on the day of the shooting, she informed school administrators that the student was in a “violent mood.” Her lawsuit says during the first half of the school year, the boy was required to be accompanied by a parent during the school day “because of his violent tendencies,” but that day, school administrators “allowed him to remain unaccompanied without a one-on-one companion during the school day.”
Deja Taylor posted bond Thursday after turning herself in to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.