YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) — A real estate developer who was shot in the head as he slept at home says his cheating wife did it in an attempt to kill him and avoid a messy divorce.
Kenneth Dearden provided an unusually detailed look at the case from his point of view by filing a lawsuit against his wife, a New York Police Department psychologist, a year after the shooting and two weeks before she was arrested.
He said he was sleeping in their upscale suburban home on Nov. 14, 2013, and woke up with a searing pain in his jaw — from a gunshot to the base of his skull. He survived, possibly because the shooter apparently used an antique derringer that had been a gift to his wife from her parents.
Dearden said his wife had been having an affair with a man since 2011 and the man was pressuring her to end her 18-year marriage.
"With Plaintiff no longer in the picture, Defendant could avoid a contentious divorce, keep the marital home and never admit the marital infidelity to any family or friends," says Dearden's lawsuit, which alleges assault, battery and emotional distress and seeks unspecified damages.
Despite the alleged affair, Kenneth Dearden and his wife, Emily Dearden, were still living together with their two daughters when the shooting occurred and continued to do so for a year afterward, even after she filed for divorce in August. In the lawsuit, he said he lived "in fear of the possibility of another (this time successful) attack."
Emily Dearden has been charged with attempted murder but denies the charge and her husband's allegations. Her lawyer, Paul Bergman, called the lawsuit "baseless" and said it was retaliation for her divorce filing.
"These new and outrageous allegations by Mr. Dearden, which completely contradict statements he gave the police at the time of the incident a year ago, are clearly being made by a husband who is furious that his wife has filed for divorce," he said.
Emily Dearden, who is free on $150,000 bail, has been suspended from her NYPD job. She has moved to Manhattan and was ordered to stay away from the rest of the family. She has until next month to respond to the lawsuit, said Kenneth Dearden's lawyer, Mitchell Schuster.
The couple's daughters are living with their father.
Attorney Raoul Felder, who's not involved in the Dearden case but has handled divorces involving Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Tyson, said, "It's always a bad idea, when a marriage is ending, to stay together. There's a minimum of space and a maximum of hatred. Tempers flare, people act on impulse, hatreds boil up to a combustion level."
Felder said using a gun is "definitely one way to end a marriage, but I don't think it's a good alternative."
Kenneth Dearden said that on the night of the shooting he went looking for his wife to take him to the hospital and he found her on the floor of the family room "claiming she had been hit on the head."
The house alarm had been turned off a few minutes earlier, and when Yonkers police arrived, Dearden told them he thought he'd been attacked by an intruder.
At the hospital, it was discovered the bullet had severed an artery and lodged in his cheek.
When police returned to the couple's house to investigate, Emily Dearden was washing bloody clothes and asked if they had a warrant, the lawsuit says. The police found a pair of derringers and determined one had been fired, but the bullet taken from Kenneth Dearden's head was too damaged for a ballistics match, he said.
He alleged that after the shooting his wife called her lover before notifying his family and met the lover for coffee before visiting him at the hospital.