NEW BOSTON, Texas -- The mother of the man who dated capital murder defendant Taylor Parker testified Monday that her son saw "red flags" in his relationship with Parker.
Connie Griffin, the mother of Wade Griffin, took the stand in the fifth day of testimony at Bowie County Courthouse.
"What was your perception of their relationship," Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked Connie Griffin.
"She (Parker) seemed to want a close relationship. I could not tell if he wanted that or was standing back. There were some red flags. One was that she didn't have custody of her son," Connie Griffin testified.
Parker is charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty in the Oct. 9, 2020, killing of Reagan Simmons Hancock of New Boston and the taking of her unborn child, who also died. Parker has pleaded not guilty. She is represented by attorneys Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana and Mac Cobb of Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Court was recessed shortly before 2 p.m. after a juror became ill.
Judge John Tidwell called for a break and the juror was assisted out of the courtroom. Tidwell then dismissed court until Tuesday morning and said the alternate juror would be used if the original juror was still sick.
On Monday morning, Connie Griffin testified that she had several conversations with Wade Griffin about Parker's alleged pregnancy. Wade asked if the pregnancy could show differently with Parker than with other women because of a prior tummy tuck.
"I told him that was not true. I did try to talk to him about, but he was convinced," Connie Griffin testified.
She said Parker's arrest has been stressful for her entire family.
"It's ruined our life," she said.
Connie Griffin also testified about her suspicions when financial problems began to arise for the couple.
Wade Griffin and Parker bought a new Nissan Altima for Connie Griffin and drove it into her driveway to surprise her. She said she had no idea where the money to purchase the car came from. To be fair to Wade Griffin's dad, Parker offered to build a new barn on his property to replace one that had burned several years before, Connie Griffin testified.
A few weeks later, Parker called and said the car had been recalled due to brake problems. She wanted the car parked in her and Wade Griffin's driveway for the dealership to pick up.
"I said I would drive it over there, but I told my husband we would never see this car again," Connie Griffin testified.
When she called the dealership to check on the car, she learned it had never been payed for.
"That's when I realized something was seriously wrong," Connie Griffin testified.
Susie Ramirez, Parker's former coworker at Mount Pleasant Women's Clinic, testified that she knows Parker's medical history and was sure she could not be pregnant, but HIPAA laws prevented her from telling anyone.
"Protecting the patient's privacy is one of her rights," Ramirez said. "I could have lost my license."
Ramirez, who was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, testified that in February 2020, Parker visited the clinic to get her medical records.
"She proceeded to tell me a story about a mass in her abdomen with a heart beat and she was having a biopsy to see if it was a viable pregnancy. I just listened to her story," Ramirez said.
She testified that later Wade Griffin had called the clinic a couple of times but no one could give him information. She said also during that time, patients could not bring anyone with them to the clinic because of COVID restrictions.
Ramirez and Parker were friends on social media, so Ramirez and others in the clinic were able to see posts about the alleged pregnancy.
"We would try to keep up with her at the clinic, to see what her next step was. To be honest, we thought it would end in a miscarriage," Ramirez testified.
Cobb questioned Ramirez about whether she talked to other nurses or doctors about her suspicions. Ramirez said the matter was discussed almost immediately.
Cody Ott of Maud, Texas, testified that he had known Wade Griffin a long time through working hogs and their jobs.
"We've been buddies ever since. He loves the outdoors. He has cows ... and loves to hunt," Ott said.
He testified that Griffin and Parker would come to his house, and they would cook steaks and visit around the fire pit.
He testified that Parker talked about owning land in Bryans Mill, that her grandparents owned oil wells, and that she was supposed to inherit a lot of money. Ott also testified that Parker and Griffin were trying to buy 1,500 acres on the Red River.
"It butts up to the Red River ... there were deer, ducks and hogs," Ott said. "It was just like paradise."
Richards questioned Ott about a conversation he had with Wade Griffin regarding Wade's talking about quitting his job due to Parker's possible inheritance.
"That's when I broke down and let him know what I was thinking," Ott testified.
"I told him, 'Dude, all this is a scam. It's not really happening,'" Ott said.
Richards questioned Ott on what alarmed him about Parker.
"Things were falling through, the trucks and car they were buying," he said.
"Was he receptive?" Richards asked.
"He went home and confronted her, he put the heat on her, and then more (threatening) emails started coming in and he read them. She was good for sure. She was a good manipulator," Ott testified.
Kelly Mae May of Daisy, Oklahoma, took Parker's maternity photos on Aug. 22, 2020.
Parker had messaged May that she was "in love with her rustic Western photography."
"I was touching her stomach, placing her hands, I couldn't tell it was not real," May told Crisp.
Testimony continues today at Bowie County Courthouse.