NEW BOSTON, Texas — A Texas woman was convicted of capital murder on Monday for killing a pregnant woman to take her unborn baby.
A jury in Bowie County, northeast Texas, deliberated about an hour before finding Taylor Rene Parker, 29, guilty of the October 2020 murder of Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, and kidnapping of the girl cut from her womb who later died.
The verdict of a jury of six men and six women came after three weeks of sometimes grisly testimony.
Parker’s attorneys argued that the baby was never alive and decided to dismiss a kidnapping charge, which would have reduced the capital murder charge to murder.
“That’s why in our opening statements we spent so much time on definitions. You can’t kidnap a person who wasn’t born alive,” said Jeff Harrelson in his closing argument before the jury.
Prosecutors, however, said multiple medical professionals said 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 methodically explained what she (Parker) did, why she did it, all the moving parts and all the collateral damage. The best evidence the state of Texas has that the baby was born alive is that Taylor Parker said it wasn’t,” prosecutor Kelley Crisp said.
Prosecutor Lauren Richards recounted all the charades Parker performed for different people, including the pregnancy she faked before the murder.
“In the past 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.”
She reminded the jury how Reagan was beaten in the head at least five times with such force that the blows compressed his skull in his brain.
“The pain Reagan must have felt when Taylor started cutting his abdomen, hip to hip … indescribable,” Richards said. “When Taylor had the baby and Reagan was still alive, that’s when Taylor started hacking and cutting. She can’t leave her alive. It wasn’t a quick death. She kept cutting it in. Guess Reagan wouldn’t die fast enough for Taylor to get out of there and continue with his plans.
The punishment phase is due to begin on October 12. Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty, although jurors could opt for a life sentence without parole.