A Texas woman who killed her friend and ripped her baby out of her womb has been sentenced to death.
A Bowie County jury on Wednesday handed down the death penalty for Taylor Rene Parker, 29, after two hours of deliberations, CNN reported. In early October, the same jury found Parker guilty of murder and capital murder in the death of Reagan Simmons-Hancock, 21, and the theft and death of her unborn baby on October 9, 2020.
Parker, who had faked a pregnancy out of fear her boyfriend would abandon her, Simmons-Hancock stabbed more than 100 before removing her baby from the womb with a scalpel. She was later caught at a traffic stop after leaving the New Boston crime scene and told police she had given birth on the side of the road.
The little girl was taken to a hospital in Idabel, Oklahoma, where she died.
Parker’s attorneys had hoped to persuade the jury to spare Parker’s life and let her serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, arguing that she was mentally ill.
According to the Texas Department of Justice, Parker is one of six women on death row in the state where the last execution of a woman took place in 1998. In the Lone Star State, death row inmates have an average waiting time of 16 years from sentencing to their execution, NPR reports.
Parker is taken to the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
Simmons-Hancock’s mother, Jessica Brooks, spoke before the sentencing hearing and called Parker an “evil piece of meat demon,” the Texarkana Gazette reported.
“[My daughter] was one of the very few people on this earth who cared about you. Well, who’s taking care of you?” Ms Brooks said during her victim impact testimony. “My baby was alive and fighting for his babies when you ripped them open and ripped her baby out of her womb.”
At the trial, prosecutor Kelley Crisp said Simmons-Hancock was about seven months pregnant.
“If [Parker] capable of this level of violence, she is a future threat. She must be on death row. She struck [ Simmons-Hancock ]hundreds of times. She hit her with a hammer,” Ms. Crisp said. “You mean she’s not violent? She ripped out her uterus at the back.”
Investigators said on the day of the murder that she had seen numerous videos about the birth and care of babies, including one about the physical examination of an infant born at 35 weeks.
Parker had lied to her partner and others that she was pregnant and even threw a gender reveal party. She was unable to conceive after a hysterectomy Daily Beast.
Defense attorney Jeff Harrelson argued Parker was mentally ill. During the three-week trial, Mr Harrelson also argued that the kidnapping charges should be dropped because the baby was “not born alive”.
The move would have reduced Parker’s murder charge to murder, but prosecutors mentioned that medical experts had confirmed the unborn girl had a heart attack.
“We have methodically set out what they [Parker] did why she did it, all the moving parts and all the collateral damage. The best evidence the state of Texas has that the baby was born alive,” Ms. Crisp said.