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Judge gives cousin custody of Belcher's daughter

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm •  Published: June 20, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Texas woman was awarded custody Thursday of her 9-month-old orphaned cousin whose mother was killed by former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher late last year before he turned the gun on himself.

Jackson County Probate Commissioner Daniel Wheeler issued an order Thursday granting custody of Zoey Perkins to Sophie Perkins of Pflugerville, Texas, saying she was more suited than Belcher's mother to be the baby's guardian.

Zoey was orphaned on the morning of Dec. 1 when her father, Belcher, fatally shot her mother, Kasandra Perkins, in the couple's Kansas City home. Belcher then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of coaches and the team's general manager as they pleaded with him to put the gun down.

During a three-day hearing last week, Sophie Perkins and Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd of West Babylon, N.Y., each argued that she would be the best guardian for the girl. Perkins' lawyers attacked Shepherd's smoking habit and the number of police calls to her home over the years, while Shepherd's attorneys criticized Perkins for putting the girl in day care 45 hours a week while she worked.

Perkins, who was Kasandra Perkins' first cousin, is the sister of Whitney Golden Charles, whose husband is Chiefs All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles.

"Out of these bad circumstances, this was the best result for Zoey," said Mark Roberts, Perkins' attorney. "Both sides love Zoey; both sides were operating with her best interest in mind. The court had a difficult decision to make, but we think it was the right decision."

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