Custody fight over daughter of Chiefs linebacker after murder-suicide

June 11, 2013 at 3:46 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo., June 11 (UPI) -- Relatives of Zoey Belcher said Tuesday that whoever gets custody of the daughter of Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher will not have control of her money.

Zoey, now 9 months old, was orphaned Dec. 1 when her father killed her mother at her home and then shot himself in a parking lot at the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility.

A custody hearing began in a Missouri court Tuesday, The Kansas City Star reported.

Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd of West Babylon, N.Y., and Sophie Perkins of Pflugerville, Texas, are each seeking custody. Perkins is a cousin of Kassandra Perkins, Zoey's mother.

Lawyers for Perkins want her parents, Rebecca Gonzales and Darryl Perkins, and Angela Moore, Kassandra Perkins' sister, to get letters of guardianship as well.

Shepherd's lawyers say she was already caring for Zoey when her parents died after moving into Kassandra Perkins' home two weeks earlier. In court papers, they said Shepherd allowed the baby to be taken to Texas for her mother's funeral, but she was never returned and she has been denied contact with her granddaughter.

Zoey is expected to have substantial financial resources. Under the National Football League's collective bargaining agreement, she would get $108,000 annually for four years and $52,000 a year until she turns 18, an income that would continue longer if she goes to college. The Hunt family, owners of the Chiefs, have set up a trust as well that includes donations made by players, employees and members of the public.

Lawyers for Shepherd and Perkins said both have agreed a third party will manage the money.

Everyone involved, however, agreed Zoey is likely to have emotional problems as she gets older.

"Zoey is not going to have an ideal life; her parents are deceased," said Mark Styles, the court-appointed guardian ad litem.

A child development specialist testified Tuesday that the ideal arrangement would be for one adult to have primary custody, with Zoey interacting with all members of her family as much as possible.

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