Toronto Sun

Friday, March 9, 2001

She who shot him wants alimony

Wounded hubby opposes claim for support

By THANE BURNETT
Toronto Sun

OSHAWA -- It's always painful when a marriage ends. But sitting near his ex-wife in a family court here and debating whether Christine Alexander should get support, David Alexander hurts more than most men.

But then maybe it was just the .22-calibre bullet fragments still lodged at the base of his spine -- put there by his once sweet Christine back in 1995.

Having failed back then to kill her hubby when she shot him point-blank in the face, before whacking him on the head with the butt of a rifle, Christine Alexander yesterday dabbed teary eyes as lawyers argued whether the man she aimed to make a corpse should now bleed financially for her.

"If Mrs. Alexander had succeeded, we wouldn't be here because Mr. Alexander would be dead," Peter Tetley, the lawyer for David Alexander, told the court.

"Who's suffered here and why?"

The case could make legal history.

It could also make you rethink filing for divorce from a homicidal spouse. Because as much as the bullet hurt David after his wife of 22 years pulled the trigger on him in their Bowmanville home six years ago -- the pair, though separated, had just come together for a round of great sex before she shot him -- what's really opening a wound is if he hadn't divorced Christine while she was serving time for his attempted murder, she likely wouldn't have a claim on the money now.

And, like so many other things in life, we can all blame Ottawa for making David bite the bullet again.

If the Alexanders were still married, her claim would fall under provincial family law legislation, where conduct of the players can be considered.

But since husband and trigger-finger/former wife are divorced, yesterday's hearing was debated under the federally created Divorce Act -- of which Section 15.5 says conduct doesn't really matter.

For all wives looking at toilet seats left up and dirty boxer shorts pushed under his side of the bed, that means you may be able to cut hubby's brake lines but still qualify for support. And isn't that only fair?

Christine's lawyer, Charles Morison, told Justice Joseph James: "I don't deny Mr. Alexander suffered terribly. That's not to say my client didn't suffer."

Adding the judge shouldn't set a bar of conduct, Morison said: "The legislation is not discretionary. If you open the box, where is the line?"

He noted mates could introduce all sorts of bad things their spouses did during the marriage.

There's that annoying toilet seat habit -- my wife says I stack the dishwasher with too many glasses -- but it's just hard to beat Christine, who, after David refused to get back together for good, shot him at close range with a rifle he had earlier disabled. Being a good wife, she had the gun fixed just days before.

After she blew off a nice piece of his face, the 48-year-old redhead stood over the mechanic, hitting his skull with the weapon, screaming: "I love you, I love you. If I can't have you, nobody can."

In December 1997, two years later, she was found guilty for the shooting as well as another weapons charge. Her two years of pre-trial custody were credited as four years toward her sentence, and she was released on parole in July 1999.

At the time, a bewildered 47-year-old David said: "I wonder what (the sentence) would have been if I was dead. She will have a life once she gets out but I have to live with this (damage) for the rest of my life."

Yesterday, pending a decision by Justice James on whether he'll allow Christine's claim to proceed, both David and Christine wouldn't talk to the press.

"He feels victimized," David's lawyer, Tetley, said outside court. They've put in a cross-claim for $100,000.

Her lawyer, Morison, said outside he wouldn't comment on whether the law is good or bad -- simply that his client is entitled to pursue a claim under it.

"We're arguing conduct is not relative," he said.

He said if she is permitted to advance the claim they will seek an unspecified amount, including proceeds from property they owned.

Keeping quiet yesterday -- though his jaw works just fine now after a lot of reconstruction surgery -- it was clear all this pained David Alexander.

Because while love may hurt sometimes, support payments may prove to be the real killer.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.