Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher was legally drunk when he killed his girlfriend at their home and then himself outside the team’s Arrowhead Stadium practice facility, according to autopsy results released today.
The results show Belcher’s blood-alcohol level was .17 when he died, about five hours after police found him sleeping in his Bentley in front of his secret girlfriend’s apartment. That alcohol level is more than twice the legal driving limit.
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The autopsy results for his live-in girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, showed virtually no trace of alcohol. Both autopsies showed no presence of illegal drugs.
Perkins’ autopsy showed she died from nine gunshot wounds, including one where the shot was fired at close range to the outside of her right hand, which could indicate she was trying to shield herself from the gunfire, according to a medical expert.
Four of her wounds displayed upward paths, possibly indicating she was on the floor when those shots were fired since Belcher was nearly a foot taller than Perkins, the expert said. Those wounds struck her neck, chest, hip and back. Police previously had said one bullet went through the floor under Perkins’ body, another indication that she was on the floor when some of the shots were fired.
Bullets perforated her liver, kidney, and spleen and struck and traveled through parts of her backbone.
Belcher’s fatal injuries were simpler: a single bullet wound to the right temple. The medical examiner also noted numerous scars to his body, mostly on his arms and legs, possibly from his work in the National Football League.
Belcher’s blood-alcohol level at his death indicates his level could have been .22 or higher when officers encountered him in his car. Police generally assume a person eliminates about .01 of alcohol per hour, which is a conservative estimate.
The police case file, released last month, detailed Belcher and Perkins’ problems as a couple, how Belcher’s mother and the Chiefs tried to help them, and Belcher’s activities before the killings.
According to police:
The events began at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 30, when Belcher drove to his secret girlfriend’s apartment in the 700 block of Armour Boulevard while Perkins attended a concert downtown with friends. Belcher and his paramour drank and played cards, and Belcher agreed to accompany her and her friends to a Power & Light District club at 10:30 p.m. They left the district about 12:45 a.m. and kissed goodbye in the parking lot of her building.
Around 1 a.m., a friend of Perkins has told The Star, the couple argued about Perkins being out late. The friend never specified whether that encounter was in person or by telephone. The police report doesn’t mention this dispute, instead indicating that after his secret girlfriend went inside, Belcher fell asleep in his car.
Police roused him two hours later after someone called 911 to report his Bentley as suspicious. Officers noted the car was running and legally parked. They said Belcher “initially displayed possible signs of being under the influence (asleep and disoriented),” but after a few minutes of being awake, his demeanor and communication “became more fluid and coherent.” The officers and their sergeant could not smell any alcohol on his breath or person.
Belcher tried to call his secret girlfriend but could not reach her. He then knocked on a neighbor’s door. The two women inside said Belcher “appeared to be intoxicated.” After he told them his friend wouldn’t come to her door, they invited him inside to wait. He talked about his past and they said he “seemed to be in good spirits laughing, joking.” He thanked them for letting him in their home. At 4:30 a.m., they gave him a pillow and blanket and he slept on the couch. He left at 6:45 a.m.
When Belcher arrived at the home he shared with Perkins in the 5400 block of Crystal Avenue, an argument broke out with Perkins. Shepherd overheard the shouting but didn’t intervene because Perkins previously had accused her of “interfering.”
After Shepherd heard gunshots, she ran to the bedroom and saw Belcher kneeling next to Perkins, saying he was sorry. He kissed Perkins, his daughter and his mother and repeatedly apologized. He backed his Bentley out of the driveway, got out, pulled off his sweatshirt and threw it in some bushes. He then drove to Arrowhead.
On the way, he apparently broke off the car’s rear-view mirror. Police later noted shattered glass on the dashboard and front passenger seat and the broken mirror resting on the seat. Police also saw blood on the gear shift and noted that Belcher’s body had cuts and blood on his right index and ring fingers. The autopsy also noted the wounds to his right hand.
Once at Arrowhead, Belcher encountered Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli.
“I’m sorry, Scott,” he said. “I’ve done a bad thing to my girlfriend already. I want to talk with (linebackers coach Gary) Gibbs and Romeo.”
Pioli then called the coaches to the parking lot. A security guard tried to stop them, but the coaches insisted. Despite their pleas for Belcher to put down the gun, Belcher only briefly lowered the Beretta .40-caliber handgun to chamber a round. He then walked away.
Crennel raised both his hands, pleading with Belcher to put the gun down. “You’re taking the easy way out!” Crennel yelled.
Belcher glanced at an approaching police officer, knelt behind a minivan, made the sign of the cross on his chest with his left hand and fired a bullet into his head above his right ear. Crennel slumped, dropped his hands and turned away from Belcher.