NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Jurors in the Taylor Parker trial viewed detailed photographs Monday morning of Parker‘s bruised body and bloodied hands following her arrest on the day of Reagan Hancock‘s murder.
Parker, who was 27 at the time of the murders on October 9, 2020, is charged with kidnapping and capital murder in the deaths of 21-year-old Reagan Simmons Hancock and her unborn baby girl, Braxlynn.
The photos were presented to the jury as part of testimony that resumed on day nine of the trial, beginning with nurses and doctors at McCurtain County Memorial Hospital who determined that Parker had not just given birth and EMS and emergency room personnel continued their efforts to save baby Braxlynn’s life.
First on the stand was the nurse who felt for Parker‘s uterus to make sure it was not bleeding by pushing on her abdomen and could not feel it. By this time, they knew the baby might not be hers.
Lorie Gibson called for an ultrasound. McCurtain County obstetrician Dr. William Herron did a vaginal exam and did not see a cervix, indicating there was likely no uterus. He testified he only saw “scant“ traces of blood on her vaginal vault, the expanded region of the vaginal canal at the internal end of the vagina.
During the exam, Gibson says Parker was asking questions but did not seem excited or especially upset.
“She was just very stoic. No emotion showed on her face.”
When the ultrasound confirmed there was no uterus, Gibson ordered a quantitative hCG test run on her blood. The so-called pregnancy hormone can show up for up to 6 weeks after delivery. It came back negative.
On the stand, Gibson said when Dr. Herron finished the exam and used the phrase, “If she did deliver…“ in speaking to other medical personnel in the room, Parker allegedly asked, “’If’ I did deliver?“
Dr. Herron detailed his observations of the baby’s condition and how he got a referral to send her to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City. But because of poor weather, it was expected to take 4 to 5 hours to get her there, even by air.
They were maintaining a pulse, but barely, and only with medicine and external assistance. It was not enough to keep her blood pumping sufficiently to her organs. They were helping her breathe.
After consulting again with the doctors at OCH and reviewing the baby’s vitals, they determined that she had likely suffered extensive brain damage from lack of oxygen and that her “condition was not compatible with life.” That was when they made the decision to remove all life-saving measures. She was declared dead at 1:22 p.m.
Baby Braxlynn weighed 7 pounds and was 18.75 inches long. Dr. Herron, who has been delivering babies in McCurtain County for over 41 years, testified that she would have been viable at that age and size.
Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards noted that the jury has heard Parker telling the trooper who pulled her over at 9:36 a.m. in De Kalb that the baby was about 35 minutes old. Richards told the doctor EMS crews got her pulse back shortly after arriving on the scene.
“If that baby had been dead that entire time, do you believe they would have been able to get that pulse back?“
“No,” Dr. Herron said.
“Logic tells you that the baby was alive because they were able to get her pulse back,” said Richards, before turning to a question about whether he has performed cesarean sections on women who were either not medicated or undermedicated. He explained that in cases where that has been necessary, they use ketamine, which he says disassociates the brain from the body, “but you don’t have any memory of pain.”
“Because the pain would be excruciating to undergo that?”
Parker’s defense did not question any of the assertions from witnesses that Parker did not give birth to the baby, but they did question once again whether the baby was ever alive, as they have with paramedics that have previously taken the stand during the trial.
Parker’s co-counsel, Mac Cobb, asked Dr. Herring if he knew that the baby did not get a pulse until EMS crews worked on her. Herron said he did not. He had not assumed that the baby had been found dead, and he does not know what condition she would have arrived in had EMS crews not taken life-saving measures.
Returning to the question Dr. Herron further, Richards once again went back to the timeline.
“If paramedics weren’t doing life-saving measures 45 minutes after this baby was born, do you think they could have revived the baby?“
“No,” Dr. Herron said.
Jurors also heard from the Idabel police officer who took Parker into custody at the hospital and took detailed photos of her hands, face, and body while booking her into the city jail.
Officer Jamie Mills processed Parker for booking into the city jail. As part of that process, she took detailed photographs of Parker‘s face, arms, stomach, back, legs, and feet to document distinctive marks and tattoos.
In addition to several tattoos that included Bible scripture quoting Isaiah 12:2, “God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid,” the photos showed a long scratch on Parker‘s neck and bruising on her shoulder, arms, and legs. They also showed photographs of Parker‘s reddened hands and fingernails crusted with blood, as well as a cut on the crease of her left thumb. There was also what appeared to be a burst and irritated blister type of wound on her left thumb.
Photos of Parker’s feet showed dried blood on her toenails in between her toes and splattered up the back of her feet.
The photos were timestamped as being taken at 3 p.m. that day. Parker’s defense counsel only asked Officer Mills whether it could be known how old those bruises were and what caused them, to which she answered that she could not.
Most of the day’s testimony was taken up by detailed testimony from an expert in call detail records and geolocation analysis who said Parker’s travels and search activity intensified in the three weeks leading up to the murders, in what prosecutors say shows a clear pattern of planning and intent.
Det. Kevin Burkleo reviewed geolocation and cell phone data for both Parker‘s Galaxy Note and the burner phone she activated the day before the murder, as well as Reagan Hancock’s and Wade Griffin’s cell phones. He also juxtaposed Parker’s Google search activity with her cell phone location data and mapped it all out on a timeline.
That analysis shows Parker‘s search activity for pregnancy-related items, information, and locations intensified around September 15 and continued through the morning of the murders. The analysis showed Parker was visiting many of the locations she searched, which included OB/GYN clinics and maternity stores.
“Would you say these searches are consistent with continuing a fake pregnancy?” Richards asked.
“It’s consistent with that, yes,” Burkleo said.
Burkleo testified that he believes Parker did a “trial run” on the day before the murders. He said cell phone location data shows Parker was at the victim’s home the night before and again early the next morning. All of that information helped establish a very clear timeline. He says the murders occurred between 7:52 a.m. at 9:14 a.m. on Oct. 9, and Parker was there.
What’s more, Burkleo says, both Parker’s primary phone and her burner phone moved away from the scene of the crime on Austin St. around 9:14 a.m., along with Reagan’s phone.
Police collected Parker’s phone on the day of the murders, but because Reagan’s phone has never been recovered, investigators have not been able to download data that would show the content of messages sent to her phone. They can only see the numbers with which the phone was in contact. That data shows the last time Reagan’s phone connected with the cell phone provider network was at 9:26 that morning, and it was no longer anywhere near her home.
The last activity on Reagan’s phone before that was at 7:52 a.m. when a text was sent from her device in reply to a number known to be one Parker had purchased and set up using a VOIP app the evening before, just minutes before walking into Reagan’s house.