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Deion Sanders Keeps Temporary Custody Of Sons

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Updated 5/7 – 7:45 p.m.

McKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) - The latest turn in the ongoing divorce saga between Deion Sanders and his estranged wife Pilar has come to a temporary end.

On Monday evening a Collin County judge ruled that the former Cowboy will stay in his Prosper mansion, and that Pilar will have to stay at least 500 yards away from the home.

The judge elected to continue temporary custody of the Sanders’ two sons to Deion Sanders, and of the couple’s daughter to Pilar Sanders, pending a full custody hearing.  That hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The next hearing related to the case will be May 15 to discuss visitation rights for both parents, and to set a custody hearing.

The judge did not interview the children, and absolved both Deion and Pilar from charges of family violence.  The judge did remove the gag order in the case, allowing the attorneys and the Sanders’ themselves to comment if they choose.

Today’s hearing, which started last week, has been part of an ongoing fight between the couple that culminated in an arrest of Pilar Sanders last month.

Both had been seeking protective orders while claiming that the other is abusive. Deion testified early on Monday morning, telling the judge that the couple’s 10-year-old son is afraid of his mother because she is allegedly abusive.

“He doesn’t want to be around her,” Deion said Monday. “He’s scared of her.”

Late Monday afternoon, Deion’s attorneys began cross-examining Pilar.

Deion’s first wife, Carolyn Sanders, made her second court appearance on Monday morning on behalf of the former football star. She is a key witness who still supports her ex-husband, and she was willing to tell that to a judge.

“He’s a good father to my kids, that’s why I’m here. And they love him to death,” Carolyn Sanders told reporters on Friday.

Other witnesses have been offering conflicting accounts of what happened during a domestic dispute at the couple’s Prosper home on April 23, when police were called out to intervene. Sanders testified Monday that the argument started over the whereabouts of one of the couple’s kids. Pilar and Deion both face assault charges related to the incident.

Deion told the judge on Monday that he went to the Prosper Police Department on April 23 and asked that his wife not be allowed to pick up the children from school. He said that he went back to his home with their 10-year-old son, and that preceeded the violent confrontation with his wife, during which she suffered a broken hand and lacerated lip.

During his testimony about the April 23 incident, Deion said that he was in his bedroom packing for a trip.

The room has an extra lock on the door because, he said, he does not trust his wife and he has had property stolen. Deion said that his wife came to the door demanding to speak to their 10-year-old son.

“I said, ‘Pilar, please, get out of my room,'” Deion told the judge. “She kept kicking my door, cussing and screaming, calling me everything in the book.” That is when Deion called for police to come to the home.

Before authorities arrived, Deion said, he was forcibly removed from his own bedroom. “I pinned her arms down to her side and walked her out of the room,” Deion recalled. Pilar’s attorneys claim that Deion hit her with a statue, but Deion said that she fell down while violently kicking during the episode.

Deion also claimed to have inadvertently knocked a cell phone out of the hand of Pilar’s friend, who Deion said attacked him during the incident. “I crushed it,” he said. “I stepped on it again. I grabbed a weight and I crushed it. I was just upset.” Despite the destroyed phone, Deion insisted that he kept his composure and never struck his wife.

A housekeeper who has worked at the home came to her employer’s defense, saying that the only physical abuse she witnessed was when Pilar was disciplining the couple’s 10-year-old son.

“He was hiding from her because he was afraid, and she would hit him with the belt,” the housekeeper said Friday. A 15-year-old boy also testified that he witnessed a belt-whipping during a sleepover at the Sanders home.

A piano teacher who was in the home on April 23 testified that she heard Deion repeatedly shouting “get out of my house,” which led her to believe that he was the aggressor. Police ultimately arrested Pilar that day. Deion and his attorneys have painted the teacher as a publicity-seeker who did not actually see anything.

The court did hear the piano lesson, however, as the football star’s wife secretly recorded the April 23 fight between the couple. One of the Sanders kids can be heard practicing piano before Pilar is heard knocking on her husband’s bedroom door, demanding to see their 10-year-old son. In the recording, Pilar says that she had not seen the child for four days, because Deion took him to Oklahoma without her knowledge.

Another recording, made by Deion on his cell phone, was less than a minute long. It features the former NFL star asking his estranged wife to leave the bedroom, Pilar asking to see the 10-year-old son, and some words from the couple’s 12-year-old son. That recording did not capture the violent encounter that would soon follow.

The couple had three children together — ages 8, 10 and 12. Deion and Pilar have been living separately for over a year, but still both residing in the 29,000 square foot home.

Click Here To Read Past Stories About The Case

CBS 11’s Stephanie Lucero, J.D. Miles & Jay Gormley contributed to this report

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