The trial has begun for a woman accused of murdering a pregnant woman, then removing the baby from the womb to pass off as her own, NBC reports.
After pleading not guilty, 29-year-old Taylor Rene Parker faces murder charges for the October 2020 deaths of 21-year-old Renee Michelle Simmons-Hancock and her unborn child, NBC says.
Simmons-Hancock was seven and a half months pregnant when her killer stabbed her over 100 times, cut her open to steal her baby, and left her for dead in her New Boston, Texas home on October 9, 2020, People Magazine reports. She was found at around 10:20 a.m. after police were called, People adds.
NBC further reports that the mother-to-be’s skull was crushed with a hammer before the killer used a scalpel to remove the baby.
In Monday’s opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp explained that Parker didn’t want her own baby, but was desperate to keep her boyfriend - so desperate, the woman was willing to fake an entire pregnancy to ensure he stayed with her, NBC says.
Crisp described how Parker disguised herself to look pregnant for ten months, faked ultrasounds, threw a gender-reveal party, and posted about it all over social media as she hunted for a victim from whom to steal a baby, NBC says.
After stealing the baby, Parker allegedly left Simmons-Hancock’s 3-year-old daughter with her as she died, NBC says. Parker then allegedly drove with the baby in her lap, getting pulled over by a state trooper, NBC says.
People Magazine says that Parker allegedly told the trooper she’d given birth on the roadside, but the baby was not breathing. However, Parker refused to be checked out at the hospital by medical staff, People adds. The child later died at the hospital, NBC reports.
“How did we get here? How did it get this far? She is an actress, an actress of the highest order. The lies and fraud go on and on; the layers of fraud are staggering. You are going to have to understand the fraud to understand what happened on Oct. 9. This started months and months ahead of time until it passed the point of no return, and it ended up in homicide,” Crisp said to the jury, NBC reports.
Witness reports say that Parker couldn’t conceive after a hysterectomy, and had offered $100,000 for a surrogate mother, and allegedly told her boyfriend she would have an induced birth on the day of Simmons-Hancock’s murder, according to NBC.
NBC reports that Jeff Harrelson, Parker’s defense attorney, told the jury that this is “a complicated case, factually and emotionally.”
“The law is the lens and filter you must view these facts through. Sometimes it’s not black and white but a shade of gray,” Harrelson said.
A disturbing murder, pre-planned?
Testimony from Tuesday, Sept. 14 came from Special Agent Dustin Estes of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who claimed that Parker did extensive research online on how to carry out her elaborate plan, CBS reports.
She allegedly watched numerous YouTube videos on how to deliver and care for an infant, Estes added, and on the day of the murder, he said she watched a video about a physical exam for infants delivered pre-term at 35 weeks, CBS says. Simmons-Hancock was 35-weeks pregnant when she died, Estes pointed out.
“She watched all these videos, clicked on all these links, and they were all at 35 weeks,” Crisp added, CBS says.
Harrelson pointed out that someone can look anything up, but cannot prove their intention, CBS says.
Parker could face the death sentence, or life in prison without parole if she is found guilty, NBC says, adding that attorneys expect to present at least two weeks worth of testimony.