NEW BOSTON, Texas – A Texas woman was convicted Monday of capital murder for killing a pregnant woman to take her unborn baby.
A jury in Bowie County in northeast Texas deliberated for about an hour before finding Taylor Rene Parker, 29, guilty of the October 2020 murder of Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, and the abduction of the daughter cut from her womb. who later died.
The verdict by a jury of six men and six women came after three weeks of sometimes chilling testimony.
Parker’s attorneys argued the baby was never alive and moved to dismiss a kidnapping charge, which would have lowered the capital murder charge to murder.
“That is why we spent so much time on definitions in the opening statements. You cannot kidnap a person who was not born alive,” Jeff Harrelson said in his closing argument to the jury.
However, prosecutors said several medical professionals testified that the baby had a heartbeat when it was born. They also recounted Parker’s actions leading up to the day Simmons-Hancock was killed.
“We’ve methodically described what she (Parker) did, why she did it, all the moving parts and all the subsequent injuries. The best evidence the state of Texas has that the baby was born alive is that Taylor Parker said , that it wasn’t,” said prosecutor Kelley Crisp.
Co-prosecutor Lauren Richards recounted all the masquerades Parker performed for various people, including the pregnancy she faked that led to the murder.
“In the last two weeks, the evidence has never been clearer,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards told the jury. “She’s a liar, a manipulator, and now she’s going to be held accountable for it.”
She reminded the jury how Reagan was struck in the head at least five times with such force that the blows pressed her skull into her brain.
“The pain Reagan must have felt when Taylor started cutting her stomach, hip to hip … indescribable,” Richards said. “When Taylor had the baby and Reagan was still alive, that’s when Taylor started cutting and cutting. She can’t leave her alive. It was no quick death. She just kept cutting her hair. I guess Reagan wouldn’t die soon enough for Taylor to get out of there and move on with his plans.”
The penalty phase is scheduled to begin on October 12. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, although jurors can choose a sentence of life in prison without parole.