Testimony begins in capital murder trial

    Testimony has begun in the capital murder trial of a Simms woman who is accused of killing a New Boston mother and extracting the child from her womb.

    29-year-old Taylor Parker could face the death penalty if convicted in the October 2020 murder of Reagan Hancock and her newborn daughter Braxlynn.

    Prosecutors informed the jury that Parker ordered a special suit off the internet in order to fake a pregnancy at the same time as Hancock, seeking to fool those around her into believing that she was carrying a child in an effort to continue a relationship with her boyfriend.

    Prosecutors also told the jury that they believe evidence will show that Parker stabbed Hancock more than 100 times in the course of the murder.

    Their first witness was Dr. Christopher Mason who performed a tubal ligation on Parker in 2014.  The doctor testified that tubal ligations, while used to prevent pregnancy, aren't always 100% effective.  However, after Parker developed complications with a cyst, her uterus and an ovary were removed, rendering her unable to bear children.

    Two of Parker's former friends, MacKenzie Bright and Abby Bell, then testified that she was desperate to have a baby girl with her husband at the time, Hunter Parker, before her uterus had to be removed.  Both testified that Parker asked them to be surrogates, offering them $100,000 to carry the baby.  Bright alleged that Parker was "obsessive" about her fertility, especially once she found out the baby was a girl.  Bell claimed that Parker seemed less interested in her [Bell's] pregnancy once she found out she was carrying a boy.

    Both girls testified that Parker's lies grew over time, with both admitting they believed that Parker was working with the "surgical division" of the Mount Pleasant OB/GYN office where she began working after her 2014 surgery.  However, Dr. Mason testified that while Parker did work there, she never worked with patients or procedures.

    Parker began posting about her pregnancy on social media in 2020, going so far as to have a gender reveal party and posting pictures of her swelling stomach.  At that point, Bright and Bell had stopped having contact with her, but testified that Parker could not have actually been pregnant because of her surgeries.

    Dr. Mason said that his office was aware of Parker's posts which included an ultrasound taken from their office.  Mason said that under HIPPA laws, they were unable to tell people that Parker wasn't actually pregnant.

    Parker's ex-husband also testified on Monday that he did not know she was unable to have children until after their marriage.  He alleged that Parker would frequently say that she was having medical issues and would fake illnesses and seizures to keep him in the marriage.  He confirmed the testimony from Bell and Bright about Parker wanting to pay for surrogacy, and said she claimed they could get a loan and use money left by Parker's grandmother to pay for it.

    Hunter Parker testified that he received a text from a "Tim Hightower" who was supposed to meet Hunter to deliver the money, but never arrived at the meeting.  Hunter said he was told Hightower had been in an accident and that first responders had stolen the money.

    First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp inquired whether Hunter thought that the story seemed believable, to which Hunter said that it did not, but Hightower had sent him a photo of a bag full of money to prove the story was genuine.  Hunter was able to reverse image search the photo and found it on Google immediately.  Hunter alleged that Hightower never existed and was another ruse by Taylor.

    Hunter and Taylor separated shortly before divorcing in the summer of 2019.  The following Spring, he learned she was claiming to be pregnant.  He contacted her boyfriend's brother to try to warn them about Taylor, but testified that he never spoke to Taylor or the boyfriend directly.

    The final testimony on Monday came from a Texas DPS special investigator who showed through Parker's Facebook data that she was connected to the victim.  The investigator showed jurors messages between the two women, as well as pregnancy posts by Parker, who was going by Taylor Morton at the time.

    Testimony will continue today, and the trial is expected to take at least a month.

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