NEW BOSTON, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman accused of killing a woman to steal her unborn baby to present as her own went on trial for capital murder Monday.
Taylor Rene Parker has pleaded not guilty to capital murder and kidnapping in the October 2020 deaths of 21-year-old Regan Michelle Simmons-Hancock and the daughter who died after being cut from her mother’s womb. Authorities say Simmons-Hancock was stabbed and cut more than 100 times and had her skull crushed with a hammer in her New Boston, Texas, home before a scalpel was used to remove her unborn baby. She is also charged with non-capital murder in connection with the baby's death.
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the Bowie County jury Monday that Parker, 29, acted not because she wanted a baby but to keep from losing her boyfriend. Crisp said Parker disguised herself to make her look pregnant for nearly 10 months, faked ultrasounds, had a gender-reveal party and posted about her fake pregnancy on social media while searching for a possible victim, Crisp said.
“How did we get here?” Crisp asked the jury. “How did it get this far? She is an actress, an actress of the highest order. The lies and fraud go on and on; the layers of fraud are staggering. You are going to have to understand the fraud to understand what happened on Oct. 9. This started months and months ahead of time until it passed the point of no return, and it ended up in homicide.”
Leaving the victim's 3-year-old daughter alone with her dying mother, Parker then drove with the baby in her lap when a state trooper stopped the car and sent the child to a hospital in nearby Idabel, Oklahoma, authorities say. The child later died.
Witnesses said Parker, who could not conceive after a hysterectomy, had offered $100,000 for a surrogate mother and told her boyfriend that she would have an induced delivery the day of the killing.
Defense attorney Jeff Harrelson asked the six male and six female jurors not to fall prey to their emotions and to keep an open mind.
“It’s a complicated case, factually and emotionally,” he said. “The law is the lens and filter you must view these facts through. Sometimes it’s not black and white but a shade of gray."
Parker could get the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder. Attorneys estimated they would present at least two weeks of testimony.
New Boston is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Texarkana, Texas.