The mother of a 6-year-old who shot her teacher in Virginia could be jailed Thursday for failing drug tests while she awaits sentencing on federal weapons charges that she used marijuana while possessing a firearm.
A bond revocation hearing is scheduled in Newport News federal court for Deja Taylor.
Her son used his gun to shoot Abby Zwerner in her classroom in January.
The first-grade teacher was seriously injured and underwent several surgeries.
Taylor pleaded guilty in June to using marijuana while possessing a firearm.
Authorities say she also lied about her drug use on a federal background check form when she purchased the gun her son brought to school.
A judge had set a sentencing date in October and released Taylor on bond on the condition that she submit to drug testing and receive drug treatment.
But Taylor tested positive twice for marijuana and once for cocaine, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing this month.
She also missed two drug tests and two drug treatment sessions, they said.
“These violations are serious and call into question the danger the defendant poses to the community, respect for the law, and the orders of this Court,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa McKeel and Peter Osyf wrote.
James Ellenson, Taylor’s attorney, said his client does not dispute prosecutors’ allegations. But he argued against incarceration in a court filing, saying Taylor had made “substantial positive developments.”
She has undergone four more drug tests since Aug. 25, Ellenson said. And although they tested positive for marijuana, “the levels are decreasing and show that Ms. Taylor is abstaining from this drug,” Ellenson wrote.
He added that the only positive result for cocaine “was an aberration and likely due to his unknowingly consuming marijuana mixed with cocaine.”
“MS. Taylor freely admits that she has had and continues to face a serious substance abuse problem,” Ellenson wrote. “Her addiction is clearly an illness – nevertheless, revocation and incarceration are not remedies. …A prison cell will only exacerbate the deep problems she faces.
Taylor’s sentencing is set for October 18. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to ask the judge for a sentence of 18 to 24 months in prison.
Marijuana is legal in many US states, including Virginia.
But it is still a controlled substance under U.S. law, which generally prohibits firearm possession by someone who has been convicted of a crime, who has been committed to a mental institution or who illegally uses controlled substances, among others.
Authorities had found marijuana in homes where Taylor resided during searches following the Richneck Elementary School shooting.
Meanwhile, Taylor still faces sentencing on a state charge of child neglect, which was filed after the shooting. It is scheduled for October 27.
In this case, prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence consistent with state guidelines, which should not exceed six months.
Prosecutors also agreed to drop a misdemeanor charge of reckless storage of a firearm.
Zwerner, the teacher who was shot, is suing the school system for $40 million.
She accuses school administrators of gross negligence and of ignoring multiple warnings on the day of the shooting that the boy had a gun at school.