Fri, October 22, 2004
IF INFAMY is allotted the same amount of time as the late Andy Warhol restricted to fame, then Christine Alexander has surely used up her 15 minutes. Yet, almost 10 years after her first brush with infamy, she still wants to push that envelope.
"The whole story is still not out yet," she says, sitting in a Whitby coffee shop a short walk from the women's shelter where she has lately taken refuge.
Shelters and fears of persecution have been constants in her life as of late -- if not a shelter, then a prison block or a jail cell -- and with "everyone out to get me," she says.
The clock on her infamy first began ticking in the town of Bowmanville back in November 1995, when Alexander was seen running from the bungalow where she had just shot her husband in the face.
Gunplay in a quiet town got her in the headlines, for sure, and also guaranteed that there would be a crush of reporters in the courtroom when her case came to trial.
As Crown attorney Lisa Cameron laid it out for the jury, Christine Alexander was a jealous woman who stalked and assaulted her estranged husband, David Alexander, and would confront him with knives and a gun during their marriage -- a violent relationship that ultimately ended when she shot him in the head, leaving him today with a rifle bullet lodged near his spinal cord.
"He remembers, as he was lying on the floor, seeing her holding the rifle barrel and swinging the handle at his head," the Crown told the jury. "She was saying, 'I'm sorry. I love you. But if I can't have you, nobody can.' "
The Crown sought 11 years in prison.
The defence asked for two years less a day.
In the end, Mr. Justice Alf Stong credited Alexander's two years of pre-trial custody as four years toward her sentence and then tacked on another year to be served.
Unsure whether her 15 minutes were up, Christine Alexander decided to made up time by suing the ex-husband she shot in the face for financial support.
That, too, earned her a few headlines.
"When I got out of jail he had taken both houses," she told the court.
"It was me who basically got us where we were financially. Now I have nothing."
Her ex-husband's lawyer, Peter Tetley, told the court that if Christine Alexander had had her way back when she was holding that rifle, his client would have paid with his life.
A few days ago, sitting in a coffee shop in Whitby, a short walk from the women's shelter where she now stays, 56-year-old Christine Alexander was asked about the outcome of her challenge for support payments.
"I got nothing. Not a cent," she says. "The judge said no money and that was that.
"It's nonsense," she says. "I'm happy. I'm finally away from the violence and the physical abuse.
"What I want now is for the police to stop harassing and assaulting me, and the government to leave me alone," she says.
"Because I shot my husband, they now want to hound me the rest of my life."
In one letter to the editor, her ex-husband took umbrage at his wife being portrayed in the press as a victim and denied ever physically abusing her -- only "restraining her from time to time from hitting or coming at me, sometimes with weapons of sorts."
He got his point across.
In the meantime, police in Oshawa and Whitby know of Christine Alexander.
Type her name into the system and a few eyecatchers appear -- "high risk for violence," prohibited from possessing firearms, probation for threatening death, and "possibly suicidal."
"Look at this," Alexander says, waving a warning letter from the ministry of community and social services that demands immediate attention to avoid losing her social assistance.
"Now they're cutting off my money," she says.
"Would they be doing that if my name wasn't Christine Alexander?
"Can't you see? They're hounding me to death."