A bitter custody battle in western Minnesota has been settled in over a child left behind after a murder-suicide.
An Otter Tail County District judge awarded custody of the child, Emma, to the parents of 17-year-old Dylan Cox. Cox had fatally shot his girlfriend and the mother of the child, Tabitha Belmonte, and then himself, in March 2011, Forum Communications reports.
Joshua Heggem, the lawyer for Dylan Cox's parents, Darrin and Catherine Cox, said, "This has been a long, emotional and difficult process for everybody involved, and we’re pleased that it’s over.” The couple in Amor, Minn., northeast of Fergus Falls, has been caring for the girl since the murder-suicide, when the child was still an infant.
Tabitha’s mother, Bobbi Teeple, also sought custody of the child, Forum reports. The judge determined Teeple had not had a substantial relationship with the child. But Teeple will be given limited visitation rights if she completes chemical use assessments and submits hair samples to be tested for methamphetamine, Forum reports.
The two sides had traded accusations during three days of custody hearings in August, the Fergus Falls Journal reported.
Forum Communications last year chronicled some of the details investigators had gathered as they sought determine what led to the shootings.