NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) — Testimony is underway in the capital murder trial of a Simms, Texas, woman accused of killing a New Boston mother and the baby she allegedly removed from her womb.

Taylor Rene Parker, 29, faces the death penalty if convicted in the October 2020 death of 21-year-old Reagan Hancock and the kidnapping of the unborn child, Braxlynn, who later was pronounced dead.

During opening statements, prosecutors laid out their case against Parker, telling the jury of six men and six women and two alternates that she ordered a suit off the internet to make herself appear pregnant, that the motive was to keep her boyfriend, and that she acted alone.

In court Monday morning, she could be seen dabbing her eyes with a tissue as she sat with her attorneys.

Reagan Hancock’s family was also in the courtroom as the prosecutor laid out their case and told the jury that evidence will show Parker stabbed Reagan more than 100 times.

Up first on the witness stand was Dr. Christopher Mason, the OB/GYN who performed Parker‘s tubal ligation in 2014 after she decided she did not want any more children. She already had two at the time. While tubal ligation is intended to prevent pregnancies, he testified that it is still possible to get pregnant. However, Dr. Mason also testified on the stand about a subsequent surgery in which Parker‘s uterus and an ovary were removed due to complications with a cyst, rendering her unable to bear children.

Following Dr. Mason on the stand were two of Parker‘s former closest friends, who testified that Parker desperately wanted to have a baby girl with her new husband, Hunter Parker, but that she could no longer bear children because her uterus had become “eaten up” with cancer and had to be removed. 

Both former friends also testified about her asking them to act as a surrogate for her, offering each of them at least $100,000 to carry her baby.  One of those friends, McKenzie Bright, testified that Parker was “obsessive“ about her personal fertility struggle, going to all the appointments with her and being more excited about her friend’s pregnancy when she finally conceived and was expecting a girl. Her other friend, Abby Bell, testified that she, too, was approached and offered more than $100,000 to carry Parker‘s baby but did not seem to be interested in Bell’s pregnancy because she was carrying a boy. 

Both also testified to the lies they say grew bigger and bigger over time, even as both former friends admitted they believed what turned out to be lies about her work at her OB/GYN‘s office in the “surgical division,“ where she claimed to know how to do C-sections. Parker came to work at the Mount Pleasant OBGYN office after she had her surgery there in 2014 but never worked with patients or did procedures, according to Dr. Mason’s testimony.

By the time Taylor Parker began posting about her pregnancy on social media in March 2020, including a gender reveal party and pictures and video of a “baby bump,” Bell and Bright were no longer friends with Parker. But they heard about the posts and testified that they knew Parker could not be pregnant because of her hysterectomy and concluded that she was lying. 

Bell testified to responding to one such post in August 2020 in which Parker expressed excitement about being seven weeks away from her due date by asking how many weeks along she was in her pregnancy. The social post, shown in court, showed Parker responding “33 weeks.”

Bell said she reached out one more time in October 2020, two days before the murders, asking how the baby was doing. She said Parker never responded. 

Parker’s defense team had few questions for Bell but did ask her to confirm her previous testimony for the state where she said she knew Parker wasn’t pregnant but that those messages were the extent of her efforts to call Parker out on what she knew was a lie.

Dr. Mason testified that his office also saw Parker’s social posts claiming to be pregnant, including an ultrasound scan taken from their office where she had previously worked. Because of HIPPA regulations protecting patient medical information, he said they could not tell people she was not actually pregnant. But because Parker had posted on social media that she planned to have the baby at their hospital, Dr. Mason said they did call the hospital to alert them to take precautions and make sure the babies were safe.

“There was no indication that a crime was going to be committed. We just wanted to make sure our babies were going to be safe in our hospital.”

Parker’s ex-husband also took the stand Monday, testifying that he did not learn about her inability to bear children until after they were married. Hunter Parker said Taylor claimed a variety of medical ailments and faked illness and seizures in order to manipulate him into staying in the marriage. On the stand, he recounted how he says Taylor tried to talk him into using surrogacy to have a baby after he found out she was unable to have her own.

Hunter said Taylor told him that they could get a loan and use money inherited from her grandmother to pay for the surrogacy. He recalled getting a text from a “Tim Hightower,” whom he was led to believe would be delivering the inheritance money, setting up a meeting. But Hightower never showed, and Hunter says he was told that was because Hightower had gotten into an accident and that the first responders on the scene made off with the money. At this point in the testimony, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked Hunter whether any of this story seemed believable to Hunter. He said no, and went on to testify that “Hightower” had texted him a photo of a duffel bag full of cash in what appeared to be an effort to prove the story was true. Suspicious, Hunter said he went straight to the internet and googled “blue duffel bag full of money,” and the very image was the very first result.

“Tim Hightower” never existed, Hunter said, testifying that he believes Taylor used multiple numbers as part of her efforts to deceive him and others.

Hunter went on to separate from Taylor, and they divorced in the summer of 2019. When he learned she was claiming to be pregnant the following spring, he says he reached out to her new boyfriend’s brother to try to alert him but never spoke to Taylor or her new boyfriend directly.

Testimony wrapped up Monday with a Texas DPS special investigator who obtained Taylor Parker’s Facebook data, which showed her connection to the victim on the social media site and messages they exchanged. Jurors also saw several of the Facebook posts in which Parker, who went by Taylor Morton on Facebook, claimed to be pregnant, including one brief video that appeared to show the baby kicking in her belly.

Testimony will continue Tuesday. The trial is expected to take at least a month.

Parker has remained held in the Bi-State Justice Center on $5 million bond since her arrest.