NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — It's one of the last efforts to keep Deja Taylor from going behind bars prior to her sentencing in October.
The 26-year-old mother is, once again, in the spotlight in her federal case after prosecutors said she violated her bond agreement.
Taylor pleaded guilty to lying on her gun permit paperwork in 2021 about using marijuana at the time she bought her 9mm handgun. That same handgun, according to Newport News Police, was used by her son to shoot his Richneck Elementary School teacher, Abby Zwerner.
In a motion to revoke Taylor's bond filed on September 1, federal prosecutors told a judge the mother failed multiple drug tests, which had positive results for both marijuana and cocaine.
The prosecutors added Taylor also failed to show up for some of her scheduled counseling as part of her bond agreement. Federal prosecutors originally argued her bond violations put her, "danger to the community and respect for the law into question."
Now, in a letter to the judge recently filed by Taylor's attorneys, they did not dispute the fact that their client used marijuana during her time out on bond. However, they argued against the push from federal prosecutors about putting Taylor behind bars prior to her sentencing.
"Ms. Taylor freely admits that she has had a still faces a serious substance abuse challenge," the letter stated. "Her addiction is clearly a disease -- nonetheless, revocation and incarceration are not the cures. We respectfully submit that a jail cell will only exacerbate the deep issues that she is facing."
The attorneys added that, despite Taylor still testing positive for marijuana, she has reduced her use of the drug. They also said since August 25, she's been working with and communicating regularly with the Probation Officer and her supervisor, explaining how they indicated to Taylor recently that they were pleased with her progress.
Regarding the positive cocaine result in the drug test, Taylor's attorneys called the outcome unusual, saying, "the four recent tests corroborate Ms. Taylor's assertion that the positive test for cocaine, which has only showed up this one time in her history, was an aberration and likely caused from her use of marijuana unknowingly laced with cocaine."
The attorneys asked the judge to give Taylor a second chance and deny the motion to revoke her bond.
The mother of the Richneck Elementary student currently faces 18 months to two years in prison when she is formally sentenced on October 18. Last month, Taylor also pleaded guilty to state charges of child neglect and is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on October 27.
Shortly after the initial motion filed to revoke her bond, Taylor's attorneys responded to our request for comment, saying:
“Like so many Americans, my client Ms. Deja Taylor has serious substance abuse issues that are exacerbated by mental health issues. We would ask for compassion and understanding at this critical time in her life. As always, we hope for a continued speedy recovery for Ms. Abigail Zwerner.”
Taylor is due in Newport News federal court Thursday afternoon where attorneys will make their arguments to the judge.