A Texas woman was convicted on Monday of capital murder for killing a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her womb.
Taylor Rene Parker, 29, was found guilty of murdering Reagan Micelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, at the victim’s home in New Boston in October 2020.
A Bowie County jury deliberated about an hour before finding Parker guilty of the murder and the abduction of the baby girl cut from the womb, who later died.
The defense team argued the baby was never alive and requested that the kidnapping charge be dismissed, 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,” attorney Jeff Harrelson said in his closing argument.
However, prosecutors said several medical professionals had testified that the baby had a heartbeat when she was born.
Parker had beaten Simmons-Hancock’s skull multiple times with a hammer, and cut and stabbed her more than 100 times before removing her unborn baby from her womb with a scalpel.
The defendant, who faked her own pregnancy for nearly 10 months, had researched how to fake a pregnancy and watched several videos on delivering babies preterm at 35 weeks, which was how far along Simmons-Hancock was when she was killed.
In the months leading up to the murder, Parker had disguised herself to look pregnant, faked ultrasounds, made social media posts alleging she was pregnant and had a gender reveal.
Parker could not conceive following her hysterectomy.
According to prosecutors, she had lied about being pregnant so her boyfriend would stay with her and told him she would be induced to deliver on the day she killed Simmons-Hancock.
“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 the victim was beaten in the head 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.”
Simmons-Hancock had a three-year-old daughter when she was killed.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Parker. Jurors will decide in a sentencing trial scheduled for October 12 whether to sentence Parker to death or life imprisonment without parole.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.