A Texas woman has been convicted of capital murder for killing another woman in order to steal that woman’s unborn baby.
Taylor Rene Parker, 29, was convicted on Monday of killing Regan Michelle Simmons-Hancock, 21, and her unborn daughter in New Boston on October 9, 2020, NBC News reported. Parker had previously pleaded not guilty to capital murder and kidnapping.
A jury of six men and six women deliberated for around an hour before finding Parker guilty of killing Simmons-Hancock and kidnapping the daughter cut out of her womb.
Parker stabbed and cut Simmons-Hancock more than 100 times and crushed her skull with a hammer before using a scalpel to remove Simmons-Hancock’s unborn baby. Parker then left as Simmons-Hancock lay dying in her home with her other daughter, who was just three years old. Parker took the baby she cut out of Simmons-Hancock’s womb, who was still alive, and drove away. She was later pulled over by police, who sent the baby to a nearby hospital, where the child later died.
Parker’s defense attorneys argued during the three-week trial that Simmons-Hancock’s baby was never alive and therefore could not have been kidnapped. Without the kidnapping charge, Parker would have been left with a murder charge instead of capital 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,” defense attorney Jeff Harrleson said in his closing statements to the jury.
Prosecutors countered that claim during trial, with multiple medical professionals testifying that the baby had a heartbeat when it was born. This was also noted in the prosecution’s closing statements.
The jury sided with prosecutors, convicting Parker of capital murder.
At the beginning of the trial, Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp proclaimed to the jury that Parker “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.”
Crisp was referring to allegations that Parker pretended to be pregnant for nearly 10 months, wearing a disguise to make her belly look bigger and providing her boyfriend with fake ultrasounds. She also held a gender-reveal party and made numerous posts on social media about her supposed pregnancy. She did all this, Crisp said, while looking for an actual pregnant woman whose baby she could steal.
Witnesses said at trial that Parker couldn’t conceive due to a hysterectomy and had offered $100,000 for a surrogate. She also told her boyfriend that she was inducing labor the day she killed Simmons-Hancock.
Parker faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Sentencing is set to begin on October 12.
Parker’s case is eerily similar to that of Lisa Montgomery, who was executed in January 2021 after she was convicted of killing Bobbie Joe Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death. Like Parker, Montgomery told friends and family that she was pregnant, even though she had been previously sterilized. After killing Stinnett, Montgomery cut out her unborn baby and drove away with the infant.