A Texas woman was found guilty of capital murder on Monday for killing a woman and trying to take her unborn baby, according to police.
Taylor Rene Parker, 29, was found guilty by a Bowie County jury in Northeast Texas for the murder of Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, and the abduction of her unborn daughter cut from her womb. The baby, named Braxlynn Sage Hancock, also died later.
After three weeks of grisly testimony, the jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Parker guilty.
On October 9, 2020, at 10:20 a.m., New Boston Police responded to a call about a deceased person inside a residence in the 200 block of Austin Street, according to a news release from the New Boston police department.
A preliminary investigation found that an unborn child had been removed from Simmons-Hancock’s body.
A female suspect later identified as Parker was arrested and taken into custody by authorities in Oklahoma. Parker was booked in the Bowie County jail on capital murder and kidnapping charges.
At the time of her arraignment, Parker’s bail was set at $5 million.
Parker’s attorneys argued that the baby was never alive and moved to dismiss a kidnapping charge, which would have lowered the capital murder charge to murder.
“That’s why in opening statements, we spent so much time on definitions. You can’t kidnap a person who has not been born alive,” said Jeff Harrelson in his final argument to the jury.
Several medical professionals testified for the prosecution that the infant had a heartbeat when born. Prosecutors also recounted the actions of Parker leading up to the incident.
“We have methodically laid out 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 that baby was born alive is that Taylor Parker said it wasn’t,” said prosecutor Kelley Crisp.
Prosecutor Lauren Richards recounted the ruse Parker performed for different people, including faking a pregnancy.
“In the past two weeks, the evidence has never been more clear,” assistant district attorney Lauren Richards told the jury. “She’s a liar, a manipulator, and now she’s gonna be held accountable for it.”
Richards reminded the jury of how Simmons-Hancock was beaten in the head with a hammer over 100 times, at least five times with such force that the blows compressed her skull into her brain.
“The pain Reagan must have felt when Taylor started cutting her abdomen, hip to hip … indescribable,” Richards said. “When Taylor had the baby, and Reagan was still alive, that’s when Taylor started slashing and cutting. She can’t leave her alive. It was no quick death. She just kept cutting her. I guess Reagan would not die fast enough for Taylor to get out of there and get on with her plans.”
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. However, jurors could opt for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The punishment phase of the trial is set to begin on October 12.