BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Jury selection is underway in the trial of an East Texas woman accused of killing a New Boston mother and removing her baby from the womb, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to find enough jurors to try the case without having to go outside the county.
Taylor Parker, now 29, is facing capital murder and kidnapping charges in the death of 21-year-old Reagan Simmons Hancock and her baby in October 2020. Hancock, a mother of a 3-year-old at the time, was eight months pregnant when Parker allegedly killed her and used a “small scalpel” to remove the unborn infant from Hancock’s body.
When a Texas state trooper pulled Parker over in De Kalb on the morning of the murder, she had the newborn infant in her lap. The trooper said Parker was attempting to perform CPR on the infant, later identified as Braxlynn Sage Hancock. LifeNet EMS took Parker and the newborn to a hospital in Idabel, Oklahoma, but the baby did not survive.
According to court documents, Parker confessed to the crime and admitted pretending to be pregnant in order to claim the baby as her own. Those court documents also describe the grisly murder scene discovered by Hancock’s mother when she went over to her daughter’s house hours after the slaying.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.
Parker’s defense team has asked for a change of venue due to pre-trial publicity, but that request will not be considered unless the judge, prosecutors, and defense attorney are unable to select 12 impartial jurors and two alternates from the pool of 180 Bowie County residents who were summoned and showed up at the New Boston High School Auditorium on June 29.
The jury pool has since been narrowed to a group of prospective jurors who advanced to the next phase and filled out questionnaires. In capital cases, potential jurors also must answer questions about their opinions on the death penalty. Only eight potential jurors are interviewed each day, one by one, making for a lengthy process that is expected to take weeks.
If an impartial jury of individuals qualified to serve on a death-penalty case cannot be found, the motion for change of venue will be considered.
Parker remains held in the Bi-State Justice Center on $5 million bond since her arrest.