Judge gives custody to CoxesPublished 11:12am Thursday, January 3, 2013
A judge in Otter Tail County has awarded custody of an orphaned child to the parents of a teen who killed the toddler’s mother and then himself.tangible
Darrin and Catherine Cox sought custody of Emma after their 17-year-old son, Dylan Cox, shot and killed his 16-year-old girlfriend, Tabitha Belmonte, and then himself.
The teenagers and their baby were living with the Coxes in Amor when the murder-suicide took place in March of 2011. The Coxes were granted temporary custody of Emma a short time later.
“This case is about Emma, and it always was about Emma, and it always will be about Emma,” said the Cox’s attorney Joshua Heggem. “This has been a long, emotional and difficult process for everybody involved, and we’re pleased it’s over.”
Belmonte’s mother, Bobbi Teeple, also wanted custody of the child, but judge Wally Senyk only granted her limited visitation rights. Teeple will be allowed to visit for several hours on the third Saturday and Sunday of each month until Emma turns three years old. Upon passing an extensive chemical use assessment and continuing follow-ups, Teeple will be granted overnight visitation one weekend per month.
Teeple will be required to abstain from using alcohol or non-prescribed drugs for eight hours prior to and during all visitations with Emma. She must also prevent Emma’s exposure to secondhand smoke during visitations.
The Coxes must also abide by several orders if they wish to maintain custody of Emma. They must successfully complete coordinated counseling, keep a parenting notebook and refrain from making disparaging statements about another grandparent. The same orders apply to Teeple.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Teeple against the estate of Dylan Cox and his parents is scheduled for trial Oct. 1.