NEW BOSTON, Texas–A jury of six men and six women is scheduled to begin hearing testimony on Wednesday morning in the punishment phase of Taylor Parker’s capital murder trial in Bowie County.
Parker, 29, also known as Taylor Morton and Taylor Waycasey, was found guilty of capital murder by the jury earlier this month. She faces a sentence of death or life without the possibility of parole in the Oct. 9, 2020, death of Reagan Simmons Hancock. The 21-year-old was pregnant with her second daughter, Braxlynn Sage Hancock, and nearing her due date when Parker attacked her with a hammer in the home she shared with her husband and 3-year-old in New Boston.
The baby was pronounced dead that afternoon at a hospital in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, just over the Texas state line. At about 9:30 a.m. the day of the murder, Parker was stopped by a Texas state trooper near the state line. She claimed to have given birth to the baby in her lap on the side of the road and was rushed via ambulance to the hospital where doctors determined she had not given birth.
Hancock’s mother discovered a gruesome scene and investigators quickly determined they were dealing with a rare crime. Parker has been in custody since the day of the murder.
Beginning Wednesday, jurors are expected to hear testimony meant to help them decide whether Parker should die for killing Hancock in the course of kidnapping her unborn baby. In the first phase of the trial, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards spoke of the unbearable pain Hancock must have experienced as Parker sliced her belly open with a scalpel.
Parker convinced her boyfriend she was pregnant and she was desperate to produce a baby after holding a gender reveal party. People in the community who knew Parker had been rendered sterile by a hysterectomy in 2015 attempted to warn Wade Griffin of Parker’s lie but she used fake emails, burner phones and voice-altering software to spin a tale that Griffin believed, according to testimony.
The jury is expected to now hear testimony regarding Parker’s attitude since her arrest, her conduct while in jail and other episodes of manipulative or criminal behavior in her life from the prosecution witnesses. Once the state has rested its case, the defense, led by Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, and Mac Cobb of Mount Pleasant, Texas, will call witnesses who are likely to give testimony that might lead a jury to choose a life sentence over death by lethal injection.
The trial is being presided over by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston.