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Published August 28, 2012, 06:07 PM

Bitter custody battle rages to decide fate of baby girl left behind by tragedy

Otter Tail County, MN (WDAY TV) - An emotional and complicated child custody drama is playing out in an Otter Tail County Courtroom this week. It was a year and a half ago that a tragic murder-suicide took the lives of two teen-agers. Seventeen year-old Dylan Cox shot his 16 year-old girlfriend Tabby Belmonte. The couple left behind a baby girl who is now two.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Otter Tail County, MN (WDAY TV) - An emotional and complicated child custody drama is playing out in an Otter Tail County Courtroom this week. It was a year and a half ago that a tragic murder-suicide took the lives of two teen-agers. Seventeen year-old Dylan Cox shot his 16 year-old girlfriend Tabby Belmonte. The couple left behind a baby girl who is now two.

Extra security was brought in to the Fergus Falls courtroom today because of the strong emotions surrounding the custody battle. The big question facing Judge Wally Senyk is: who is best to raise Emma, the toddler, now two, who lost both parents on that tragic March day in 2011?

The tension between Emma's grandparents is very evident. In fact during a recent court hearing, it is alleged members of one family called the others murderers as the families entered court.

As both families mourn the loss of two young people - Dylan and Tabby - comes a bitter custody dispute over who is best to care for the couple's daughter, Emma. While Dylan's parents have spent a significant amount of time raising Emma, Tabby's mother does have visitation, although in court today, it was revealed she often canceled visits.

One of the pivotal moments during today's child custody hearing, came when there were allegations of drug abuse and mental health issues against Tabby's mother, Grandmother Teeple, which prompted the family to have major concern over Emma's safety.

Josh Heggem – Attorney for Cox Family: “Good, kind, caring people that always wanted what is best for Emma and that is what they are asking the judge in this case and we are confident he will do what is best in Emma's best interest.”

While the attorney for Tabby Belmonte's family would not comment today, he will present arguments later this week, as to why Tabby's mother, despite cries against it, should play a major role in raising Emma.

There is no jury on this case. Once arguments on both sides are made, Judge Senyk of Fergus Falls will make the ultimate call, on who will raise Emma.

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