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Texas Seeks Death Penalty For Woman Convicted Of Murdering Friend, Stealing Unborn Baby
The penalty phase has begun to determine whether or not Taylor Parker deserves life or death for the 2020 murder of Reagan Simmons-Hancock and the abduction of her unborn baby.
The penalty phase has begun for the woman recently convicted of brutally murdering a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her body.
Prosecutors in Texas are seeking the death penalty for Taylor Parker, who was convicted of the 2020 capital murder of Reagan Michelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, and her unborn daughter, Braxlynn Sage Hancock. As reported by CBS Shreveport, Louisiana affiliate KSLA, the sentencing phase began Wednesday with attorneys arguing over life or death before a Bowie County jury — the same jury that found Parker guilty earlier this month.
“The battleground was always going to be this,” said Bowie County First Assistant Attorney Kelley Crisp, according to NBC Texarkana affiliate KTAL-TV.
Crisp referred to Parker as an “actress of the highest order,” reminding jurors that she faked her pregnancy for nearly 10 months before brutally murdering Simmons-Hancock, cutting her unborn child from the womb and passing the baby off as her own. Investigators said the murder was Parker’s desperate attempt to keep up with appearances and to prevent her boyfriend, Wade Griffin, from leaving the relationship.
The infant would not survive the attack, which saw Simmons-Hancock stabbed and slashed more than 100 times in her New Boston, Texas home, a scalpel still lodged in her neck when her mother found her dead on Oct. 9, 2020. Parker also beat the victim in the face and skull with a hammer while the victim's child was in the home.
The attack was so brutal that a medical examiner is expected to testify that one of Parker’s press-on nails was found embedded in the placenta, according to KTAL-TV. In arguing aggravating circumstances, prosecutors also say jurors will hear expert testimony proving Simmons-Hancock was still alive when her daughter was violently taken from her body.
Crisp also cited GPS tracking that placed Parker going to the river to dump physical evidence on the day of the murder. Soon after, a state trooper pulled Parker over with an unresponsive Braxlynn on her lap, the stolen placenta stuffed down Parker’s pants.
“The State of Texas believes the law and the evidence only point to one verdict, and that’s the death penalty,” Crisp stated. “Your verdict will not come from emotion. It will come from evidence.”
The prosecution also pointed to Parker’s alleged obsession with herself and other attention-seeking behavior.
“She thinks that she’s going to be famous. She thinks she’s gonna be on Netflix. Maybe it’s a Lifetime movie,” said Crisp. “When we played Trooper Shaver’s video in the courtroom of her traffic stop, she asked if she could stay out late that night so she could watch herself on the news. You’re going to hear witness after witness who are going to tell you what she was saying.”
According to hundreds of pages of court records obtained by the Shreveport local news station, Parker has “repeatedly and continuously engaged in criminal behavior, violation of jail policy and has continued her fraudulent pattern of lying and misrepresenting most all aspects of her medical history and medical status.”
Prosecutors allege Parker “modifies” her jail attire to make it more revealing and has romantic relationships with male and female inmates while incarcerated.
Parker’s defense attorney, Jeff Harrelson, argued his client would be better suited for life behind bars instead of sitting on death row, as highlighted in his opening statements, according to KTAL-TV. Harrelson requested the jury see the “full picture” before arriving at a decision while citing his client’s childhood trauma.
“Taylor is going to pay for what she’s done. What could have prevented this, changed the course?” said Harrelson. “It’s not about blame. But more than a dozen people close to her knew about the events leading up to the murder but didn’t do anything about it, intervene, and in some cases, even enabled it.”
One by one, witnesses, including former friends and colleagues, are taking the stand to help illustrate that the defendant is an alleged pathological liar. One witness described Parker’s false claims that she had a sister who died by suicide. Another accused Parker of enlisting others to call her then-boyfriend and read from a script to report he had a large sum of money delayed at a bank, according to KTAL-TV.
Parker has also allegedly falsified having a number of medical conditions, including cancer and other diseases. These statements have continued since her being behind bars, prosecutors allege.
Based on prosecutor Crisp’s statements, there may also be new claims that Parker lives with a neurological disorder, according to KTAL-TV. She was deemed mentally competent prior to standing trial.
“Now, all of a sudden, we have issues; neurological deficits that everybody missed,” Crisp stated. “That explains all of this. ‘It’s all because my brain is messed up.’”
Parker is also accused of providing intimate details of the murder to a mentally vulnerable cellmate in an alleged foiled plot to pin the murder on the other woman.
“We are not here for an insanity trial or about whether somebody is incompetent,” Harrelson reminded jurors. “She’s unstable. She’s unwell. Is that mitigating to you? You’ll make that decision.”
The penalty phase is expected to last at least two to three weeks, according to KTAL-TV.