A custody battle is brewing over the infant daughter of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before turning the gun on himself in early December.
Belcher, 25, shot 22-year-old Perkins at their Kansas City home on Dec. 1 before driving to Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself in the head in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.
Four-month-old Zoey Michelle Belcher is currently with her mother’s family in Texas, according to a lawyer for Belcher’s mother Cheryl Shepherd. Two weeks prior to the murder-suicide, Shepherd moved in with Belcher and Perkins and assisted in the care of the child. Shortly after the shooting, Shepherd was granted custody of Zoey and soon filed a petition on Dec. 14 to be appointed guardian and conservator of her granddaughter’s estate.
Yet according to Shepherd’s lawyer, Gretchen M. Gold, Zoey has yet to be returned to paternal grandmother.
“Cheryl agreed to temporarily allow the maternal relatives [to] take Zoey to Texas for her mother’s funeral,” Gold wrote in an 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 the New York Post, Zoey’s maternal grandparents, Rebecca Anne Gonzalez and Darryl Perkins, and other Texas relatives have filed their own lawsuit for temporary custody of the child and are seeking guardianship to “represent her best interests.”
A Fort Worth judge has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 22.
“We intend to fight the matter in Texas on Jan. 22 if that hearing takes place,” Gold added.
Meanwhile, a probate commissioner scheduled a hearing on Jan. 11 to go over Shepherd’s petition seeking custody of Zoey and her request to become administrator of her son’s estate.
As previously reported, Zoey is eligible to receive at least $1 million from the NFL under terms of the leagues’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. If she chooses to attend college, she will continue to receive that amount until age 23.
Belcher’s beneficiary will reportedly receive $600,000 in life insurance and $200,000 for each credited season; Belcher was in his fourth season.