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January 24, 2001

Woman who shot husband wants spousal support

Oshawa man hit in face: 'Now she comes after me for whatever I've got left'

Chris Eby
National Post

An Ontario woman who shot her husband in the face at close range, disfiguring him and leaving a bullet lodged in his spine, has filed a claim for spousal support nearly two years after her release from prison where she served time for attempted murder.

"As if the shooting wasn't enough, now she comes after me for whatever I've got left," said David Alexander yesterday from his home in Oshawa.

Mr. Alexander, 49, has difficulty controlling his facial muscles and cannot fully close his jaw. The right side of his face is deformed and the bulk of the bullet that nearly killed him remains in his neck.

He sustained the near-fatal injuries when his former wife, Christine Ann Alexander, 51, shot him with a .22-calibre hunting rifle as she moved her belongings out of the couple's Bowmanville, Ont., home in November, 1995, shortly after they separated.

Ms. Alexander was convicted of attempted murder and assault and firearm offences.

She was sentenced to two years less a day in addition to the two years she spent in pre-trial custody.

She served 16 months of her sentence, was paroled in April, 1999, and now lives in Oshawa on social assistance, receiving $535 a month.

Mr. Alexander works as a security guard for A.G. Simpson in Oshawa and, according to court documents, earns about $40,000 a year.

In court documents, Mr. Alexander says he remains in fear of his former wife and her support claim has rekindled many of the anxieties and concerns that he strived to put behind him.

The documents say he suffers deep bouts of depression and his emotional, physical and psychological conditions remain fragile.

Lawyers for Mr. Alexander have asked the court to dismiss the support claim "as five years have passed since the date of separation" and "as a consequence of the unconscionable treatment he received throughout the course of their marriage including numerous acts of violence and [Ms. Alexander's] ultimate attempt to terminate [Mr. Alexander's] life."

The attempt on Mr. Alexander's life constitutes an "obvious and gross repudiation" of the couple's marriage, and even if Ms. Alexander is entitled to support "it ought to be fixed at zero," the documents say.

Court records show the couple separated after a "long period of physical violence and abuse perpetrated by [Ms. Alexander]."

Mr. Alexander won custody of the couple's boys, David, now 21, and Robert, now 19, the matrimonial home in Bowmanville and a rental property in Oshawa following their separation. They have since divorced.

"It's an unusual case, there's no doubt about that," said lawyer Peter Tetley, who is representing Mr. Alexander.

Mr. Tetley said the claim is going forward on a peculiar wrinkle between Ontario's Family Law Act, which allows the court to consider the conduct of one spouse toward another, and the federal Divorce Act, which decrees conduct is not relevant and prohibits a judge from considering it.

The Alexander case it is not the first of its kind, however.

In a 1996 case in British Columbia, Doreen Day filed for support from her husband Fletcher when the couple divorced after she shot him four times -- twice in the head, and once in the chest and leg.

Mr. Day survived the shooting and his wife was convicted of attempted murder. But before Ms. Day was sentenced, she tried to commit suicide, shooting herself four times. She, too, survived and spent most of her prison term recovering from her injuries in hospital.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed Ms. Day's claim, ruling the attempted murder of Mr. Day was a repudiation of their marriage and violated his rights under the province's Family Relations Act.

There is also an Ontario case from 1991 in which Carol MacDonald claimed spousal support from her husband of 24 years, Donald, after the couple divorced when she stabbed him following a family dinner.

Mr. MacDonald suffered minor wounds and ended up having to pay his former wife $700 a month for five years.

A judge is expected to make a ruling in the Alexander case in March.

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