Toronto Star

Jan. 23, 01:24 EDT

Victim is sued for support

Woman who shot spouse seeks money

Martin Patriquin, STAFF REPORTER
Toronto Star

A woman convicted of shooting her estranged husband in the head, and who served almost two years in jail for her crime, is going to court to get spousal support from the man she nearly killed.

And there is a very good chance she'll get it, according to several family law practitioners.

``I loved him and I don't want to see him hurt. I just want my fair share,'' said Christine Alexander, convicted in 1997 of attempting to murder her husband, David.

Some observers suggest that if her request is granted, it could be the first time a person convicted of attempted murder receives financial compensation from the victim.

David and Christine Alexander separated in October, 1995, after a 22-year marriage. On Nov. 5, David was helping his estranged wife move out of their Oshawa home when she shot him once and repeatedly bashed him on the head.

Found guilty in 1997, Alexander was paroled in April, 1999, and is seeking part-ownership of the couple's three houses (two of which have been sold), as well as temporary financial support ``to help get me on my feet.''

Since her release, she has been on social assistance, which may well entitle her to support from her now-divorced husband.

``If she can prove economic disadvantage has arisen from the marriage, she may very well be able to get support,'' said Toronto family lawyer Stephen Grant, who is not involved in the case.

``Can I see a judge awarding support in the face of this? Absolutely.''

In fact, said lawyer Roselyn Zisman, the woman's financial predicament makes her a textbook case for support, ``except for one twist'' of attempting to murder her husband.

That she shot her husband in the face may be a moot point when determining support, since Canada's Divorce Act is ``no fault'' and does not take prior conduct into consideration. Nor is there any statute of limitations for filing a claim.

``Her conduct isn't admissible under the Divorce Act,'' Toronto family lawyer Philip Epstein said. ``Technically speaking, the fact that she shot him in the face doesn't bar her from a support case.''

Evidence presented in court showed that Alexander had the gun repaired two weeks before shooting her husband.

``At the time, I wasn't defending myself,'' Alexander said in a recent interview in Whitby, adding she couldn't remember exactly why she shot her estranged husband.

As part of her parole, she must not contact either David Alexander or their sons, David and Robert. She was also ordered by the court to help organize ``three public symposiums to be presented to the public for the awareness and to combat domestic violence.''

She was classified as a high-risk offender by Durham Region police upon her parole.

While glad to be free, Alexander said she loved her stint in jail, noting, ``It was better than my marriage.''

But her ex-husband wishes she was still behind bars.

``It is ludicrous. First, you get shot and you survive, and three or four years later she comes at me for spousal support,'' said David Alexander, who lives in Bowmanville. ``I think she wants to get even. What if I didn't pull through this? Where would she be today?

``All I want her to do is back off, leave me alone. I still get headaches. I still have a bullet in the back of my spine.''

Christine Alexander's lawyer, Charles Morison of Oshawa, declined to speak about the case. Peter Tetley, acting for David Alexander, could not be reached for comment.

While professing love for his mother, the couple's eldest son, David, 21, said he wished she would stop hounding his father.

``She needs help, not money,'' he said.

A claim has been filed in Oshawa family court. The next court date is set for Jan. 31.

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