Reagan Hancock’s mother took the stand yesterday in the capital murder trial of Taylor Parker.
Jessica Brookes talked about the close relationship she and her daughter shared and how she had been the one to hire Parker to take Reagan and Homer’s engagement photos, as well as the photography for their wedding.
Brookes testified that she didn’t recall Parker and Hancock being in frequent contact until Hancock announced she was pregnant with a girl. Brookes recalled that there was talk of Parker taking Hancock’s pregnancy photos, but the shoot never happened after Parker claimed a medical issue. Brookes said that she was surprised that Hancock and Parker decided to get together to hang out the week of the murder.
Brookes then spoke of the morning of the murder. She had been at work when she received a call from Homer telling her that he wasn’t able to reach Reagan on her phone. Brookes stopped by the daycare to check on her granddaughter on the way but knew something was deeply wrong when a worker informed her that Kynlee hadn’t been dropped off that morning.
Brookes testified that her fear mounted as she approached the Hancocks’ home, even saying that she had briefly pulled into the police station on the way to tell them something might be wrong. When she turned the corner onto Austin Street, her heart sank when she saw the garage door was open.
Brookes cried on the stand as she recalled finding blood in the driveway and garage as she approached the door to the house. “There’s a bloody fingerprint on my baby’s doorknob,” Brookes said through tears. Brookes used a work shirt to open the door, but back out of the house when she saw a bloody footprint on the kitchen floor.
She said that she knew she had to get to her daughter if she was hurt, so she stepped back into the house and found Hancock lying facedown on the floor with one arm over her head. Brooks said her daughter’s blonde hair was soaked red from blood and the kitchen was wrecked.
Brookes said that she knew that Reagan was already gone, but she called to her anyway, yelling her name and pleading for Reagan to say something. She recalled that the house was quiet and dark, and she grew afraid to look for her granddaughter. She left the house and fell to her knees. Brooks said that she was yelling, “Somebody’s murdered my baby! There’s blood everywhere!”
Brookes’ husband Marcus arrived shortly with his friend Chris Hughes. Brookes said that she pleaded with her husband not to go in the house. He entered the kitchen, then abruptly came out with a hand over his mouth. Marcus fell to the ground in the driveway and began having chest pains. When he took the stand, Marcus testified that his first thought was of his granddaughter. The Brookeses couldn’t bear to face the scene again, with the prospect of stepping over their daughter’s bloodied body.
Chris Hughes, upon taking the stand, said that he tried to go through the front door, but found it locked. While there, he heard Marcus yelling that he heard Kynlee inside when he called to her. Hughes stepped around Reagan’s body and pooled blood as he made his way into the darkened interior of the residence. He found Kynlee on her bed under a blanket.
Hughes testified that it took Kynlee a moment to realize who he was before she ran into his arms. Hughes scooped her up and covered her head with a blanket to spare her the sight of her mother before bringing her outside.
Homer Hancock arrived then, with Marcus and Hughes struggling with him to keep him from going inside.
Paramedics who had ridden with Parker from the scene of the traffic stop in De Kalb took the stand as well. Kelly Gerald said that he felt as though Parker played him for a fool. He had recently lost a child himself and tried to comfort a woman he believed had just gone through the trauma of giving birth in a car.
Elton Crosswood testified that Parker had said she was driving when the baby was born, but the paramedic said that it was obvious the baby hadn’t just been born. Crosswood had been trying to revive the baby, giving her epinephrine, performing CPR, and intubating her. Eventually, her heartbeat returned and Crosswood recalled a feeling of relief in the ambulance as the baby’s pulse strengthened.
Braxlynn Sage Hancock died later at the hospital.