Court hears Belcher custody case

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 11, 2013
The 9-month-old daughter of a Kansas City Chiefs player who fatally shot the baby's mother and then himself should have just one primary caregiver, a child psychology expert testified Tuesday during a hearing to determine the girl's custody. Zoey Belcher was orphaned when her father, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, shot and killed her mother, Kasandra Perkins, at the couple's Kansas City home last Dec. 1, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of team coaches and officials. Jovan Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, of West Babylon, NY, and Perkins' relatives near Austin, Texas, are vying for custody of the child. Contey testified that she had met both families and believed either would provide a good home for the child. But she said she could not recommend that Zoey's custody be split between them. ''That seems like a lot of stress to put on a little person,'' she said. Before Contey's testimony, the families announced in court that they have agreed to hire a third party to control Zoey Belcher's estate, The Kansas City Star reported. The estate will receive more than $1 million under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, including $108,000 annually over the next four years, $48,000 in the fifth year and $52,000 each year until she turns 18. She will continue to receive that amount until she is 23 if she attends college. A trust funded by the Hunt family, who own the Chiefs, along with team coaches, players, employees and contributions from the public, will also help care for the child. As Belcher's beneficiary, his daughter's estate will also receive $600,000 from a life insurance policy, $200,000 for each of his four seasons with the Chiefs and $100,000 that was in a retirement account. The shooting occurred while Belcher and Perkins argued over ''one or both of them going out as in to a club or partying,'' according to police records. Shepherd, who was living with the couple at the time, heard multiple gunshots and saw Belcher kneeling next to Perkins' body, saying he was sorry. After kissing Perkins, his daughter and his mother, Belcher drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself while former coach Romeo Crennel and former general manager Scott Pioli pleaded with him to put down his gun. As a police officer approached, Belcher knelt behind his vehicle, said, ''Guys, I have to do this. . . . I got to go, can't be here and take care of my daughter.'' He then made the sign of the cross and fired a bullet into his head, the report said.
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