The family of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend are fighting for custody of the couple’s young daughter.
Last month, Belcher shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before turning the gun on himself, leaving their now 4-month-old daughter an orphan.
The baby, named Zoey, was left in the custody of Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, who moved in with the family two-weeks prior to the shooting. Despite filing paperwork to be named guardian of the infant, the child has been removed from her care. “Cheryl agreed to temporarily allow the maternal relatives [to] take Zoey to Texas for her mother’s funeral,” said Shepherd’s lawyer via email. “The maternal relatives have now ceased communicating with Cheryl Shepherd and have refused to return her calls or return the child to her care.”
According to a lawyer for Perkins’ family, they are looking to maintain full custody of the baby. “Personally, I don’t know why we would want to reward Jovan’s—the murderer’s—family with giving them the baby, but that’s not a legal argument,” the attorney, Jon Michal Franks told ABCNews.com.
Franks also disputed claims that the baby was taken, saying that Shepherd “voluntarily” left Zoey in the family’s care.
Based on the NFL’s most recent player’s contract, Zoey or her guardian will be entitled to her father’s estate. She will receive over $100,000 over the next five years, and roughly $50,000 until she turns 18, 23, or goes to college. A $600,000 life insurance payment, and nearly $1 million from Belcher’s retirement account will also go to Zoey.
A Missouri court will hear arguments on the case this week, while a Texas court date has been set for Jan. 22.
Belcher, 25, shot Perkins, 22, while his mother was in the house. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager.
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