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Jury rejects wrongful death suit in murder-suicide

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- An Otter Tail County jury has rejected a family’s claims in a wrongful death suit filed after a murder-suicide three years ago.

In March 2011, Tabitha Belmonte, 16, was shot and killed at the Cox family’s Amor home by Dylan Cox, 17, who then turned the gun on himself.

Belmonte’s mother, Bobbi Teeple of Dent, and eight other family members had asked for a total of $5 million from the Cox family.

After a three-day trial in Otter Tail County District Court, the jury on Jan. 29 rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims.

Teeple and the other plaintiffs had alleged that Dylan’s parents, Darrin and Catherine Cox, kept several firearms in their home and created an unsafe environment for the young couple, who were living there with their infant daughter, Emma.

The jury determined that the shooting was “unintentional by reason of mental illness or defect” on the part of Dylan Cox, according to court records.

The jury also took notice that several plaintiffs did not fit within the legal definition of “next of kin,” since Tabitha Belmonte was never legally adopted by Steven L. Teeple Sr., Bobbi Teeple’s husband.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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