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WITH PODCAST | Parker receives death penalty, called ‘evil piece of flesh demon’

by Lori Dunn | November 9, 2022 at 2:16 p.m. | Updated November 10, 2022 at 3:39 p.m.
Reagan Hancock's sister Emily Simmons, left background, and mother, Jessica Brooks, right background, speak with the media after Taylor Parker was sentenced to death for the October 2020 killing of Hancock. (Staff photo by Lori Dunn)

NEW BOSTON, Texas -- Taylor Rene Parker has received the death penalty from a Bowie County jury of six men and six women.

It took the jury about one hour and 15 minutes for the jury to reach their verdict of sentencing Parker to death for murdering prepgnant Reagan Michelle Hancock and cutting her unborn daughter, Braxlynn Sage Hancock, from the womb Oct. 9, 2020. Parker was found guilty of capital murder by the same jury on Oct. 3.

The written verdict was given to Judge John Tidwell, who read out loud that jurors had answered "Yes" to the first special issue question and "No" to the second.

The first special issue asked the jury to decide whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society. The other special issue asked the jury to consider all the evidence, the defendant's character, background and moral culpability in determining if there are significant mitigating circumstances to issue a sentence of life imprisonment without parole rather than the death penalty.

"You have been found guilty of capital murder and punished by Texas law to death. I formally sentence you to death," Tidwell told Parker.

After listening to victim impact statements from Hancock's family, Tidwell told the bailiff, "Take her to death row."

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In an On the Line special report, Gazette reporter Lori Dunn shares details and her impressions of the sentencing of convicted murderer Taylor Parker.

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In a trial that lasted almost a month and included graphic and heartbreaking testimony, Wednesday's closing statements and victim impact statements were especially emotional.

First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp spoke to jurors about the burden of their decision. She also told them that Parker is ultimately responsible for her fate.

"It's been a heavy burden, and I'm going to turn it over to you," Crisp told the jury. "She's going to send herself to death row."

Crisp told jurors they were at the end of one of the longest and most difficult journeys of their lives.

"It's not the case of a lifetime. It's the case of 10 lifetimes," Crisp said.

Crisp told the jury that Hancock's family has put faith in the system.

"And the system is you," she said.

In her victim impact statement, Emily Simmons, Reagan Hancock's younger sister, told Parker exactly what she had taken from her.

" My only biological sister. You need to understand what you took from me and my family. No more celebrating her birthday. I was barely 19 when I got the call my sister was gone," Simmons said as she cried.

Simmons is engaged to be married and told Parker that instead of having her sister as her maid of honor, she will have to carry Reagan's photo down the aisle instead.

"She will never be my maid of honor. If I visit my sister I have to go to a graveyard and see a headstone. I will never get a text or phone call from again," Simmons said.

Hancock's mother Jessica Brooks looked at Parker and said, "I know you think this all about you. But it's about Reagan and Braxlynn."

Brooks addressed Parker as an "evil piece of flesh demon."

"She (Hancock) was one of the very few people on this Earth who cared about you. Now who cares about you?" she asked. "My baby was alive still fighting for her babies when you tore her open and ripped her baby from her stomach."

In closing statements, Crisp showed the jury a crime scene photo of Reagan Hancock soaked in blood on the floor of her home.

"If she (Parker) is capable of that level of violence, she is a future danger. She needs to be on death row. She slashed her hundreds of times. She beat her with a hammer. You are going to say she's not violent? She ripped her uterus out by the back. Look at what she did," Crisp said.

She also talked about the close personal nature of the crime.

"How close did she get to bash her head in with a hammer. Did she kneel over her? Did she straddle her? And then she slashed her throat," Crisp said.

Crisp then read to the jury from Proverbs 6:16.

"There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."

"That's her," Crisp told the jury.

"The circumstances in which Reagan died are horrible and there is no doubt it was torture. But a mother died fighting for her child, That's how she left the world. A woman who died fighting."

Earlier in closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards reminded the jury that "this is the most heinous offense this county has seen, that all of the law enforcement officers have seen."

Richards also left jurors with images of Reagan and Braxlynn.

"Braxlynn spent her living and dying moments in the arms of the person who killed her. What case would you give it (death penalty ) to if not this one?" she asked. "Mercy is for someone who understands and acknowledges what they have done," Richards said.

In his closing statements, Parker's attorney Jeff Harrelson spoke to the jury about words they have heard, including heinous, manipulative, pathological, revenge and remorse.

"Words can be used to dehumanize. By only using those terms, it gives you only part of the picture," he said. "You know now after hearing all of that evidence that there are lots of shades of gray; there are layers to people's lives."

He described Parker as a "woman, daughter, sister and mother."

"She is a human," he said.

Harrelson also told the jury, "This courthouse and in this courtroom, this is where we settle disputes. This is what separates us from a mob, pitchfork and rope," he said.

Harrelson also spoke of how Parker's family and friends let her down by not confronting her about the fake pregnancy.

"There was no safety net when everyone saw the wheels were off."

Harrelson also quoted the Bible to the jury.

"Jesus cared for the least and the lost," he said. "What are we doing here? We're not putting down old Yeller cause he got rabies. We're dealing with a human, a mother."

In her closing rebuttal, Crisp attacked the defense's plea that Parker is a human being and a mother.

"She told her children she was having their baby sister. They dragged a cow around with a pink bow on it. If you do that, you forfeited the title of mother. She's not fit to call herself mother," Crisp said.

The courtroom was overflowing with people Wednesday morning. An extra row of chairs was added and investigators with the district attorney's office and the Texas Department of Public Safety stood along the walls.


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