NEW BOSTON, Texas–A Bowie County jury deliberated about an hour on Monday morning before finding Taylor Parker guilty of capital murder in the 2020 killing of a pregnant friend whose unborn baby girl was cut from her womb.
The jury of six men and six women was instructed by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to return to court on Oct. 12 to begin hearing testimony in the punishment phase of Parker’s trial. She faces the death penalty or a sentence of life without parole for taking the life of Reagan Michelle Simmons Hancock, whose baby, Braxlynn Sage Hancock, also died.
“She hit her with a hammer, one, two, three, four, at least five times, compressing her skull into her brain,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards said in her closing argument. “The pain Reagan must have felt as Taylor started cutting her abdomen from hip to hip is indescribable.”
Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson, who is defending Parker along with Mount Pleasant attorney Mac Cobb, asked the jury to listen to the evidence, follow the law and be fair, noting that they have heard from over 60 witnesses and been shown hundreds of exhibits.
Parker Parker used spoofed phone numbers, burner phones, voice-altering software and fake email accounts to dupe her boyfriend, Wade Griffin into believing her alleged lies about money, her family, and her phantom pregnancy. The couple held a gender reveal party and as more and more people who knew her pointed out that she’d had a hysterectomy and a long history of lying, Taylor became desperate to produce a baby and prove herself.
In the days before the attack on Hancock in the brick ranch-style house she shared with her husband and 3-year-old in New Boston, Parker was allegedly hunting for victims at pregnancy-related stores and clinics while wearing a fake belly she’d bought off the internet.
To detract from her lies and buy time, Parker set fire to the home where she lived with Griffin in Simms, Texas, and called a bomb threat into a hospital in Mount Pleasant in the days before the murder.
Richards and First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the jury on Monday that Parker was well aware that the baby would need medical attention quickly after being ripped from her mother’s body but that was not Parker’s priority.
“More important than getting help for the baby was getting rid of evidence,” Richards said.
Investigators were unable to recover the clothing Parker wore during the gruesome murder, the fake belly, the handle to the scalpel or a knife.
“Reagan’s life had no value to her, the baby’s life had no value, but those lives have value to us,” Crisp argued. “You tell her it’s over. Tell her what you think about her behavior and what she’s done and all that she put into it.”
Before settling on stealing Hancock’s unborn infant, Parker stalked women’s clinics and stores that cater to pregnant people, Crisp said.
Parker was stopped by a Texas state trooper near the Oklahoma border not far from DeKalb, Texas, at about 9:30 a.m. the morning of the murder. She claimed to have given birth roadside and the baby’s umbilical cord appeared to be coming from her pants.
Puzzled by the results of physical exams, medical staff at the Oklahoma hospital determined Parker had not given birth. The baby was pronounced dead that afternoon.
“The evidence has never been more clear,” Richards said. “She’s a liar, she’s a manipulator and now she’s going to be held accountable for it.”