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'I just want my life back': Farmersville shooting survivor fighting to regain independence

"I just don't get it. All I was trying to do was trying to go out on a date," said Smith.

FARMERSVILLE, Ill. — "It's been a living hell," said 49-year-old Chris Smith.

Smith says he's living the worst time of his life.

"I went from being a single dad, small business owner living your everyday American dream. I did nothing wrong," Smith told 5 On Your Side's Robert Townsend today during an exclusive interview.

On the night before Thanksgiving, Smith and Leslie Reeves were excited to go on their first date at a bar in Farmersville, Illinois, about 75 miles from St. Louis.

Chris had no idea it would be their last.

"I just don't get it. All I was trying to do was trying to go out on a date," said Smith.

The next day, relatives said a friend of Leslie Reeves called the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and asked for a welfare check at Chris' Farmersville, home.

Deputies went there and found Reeves shot to death in the living room.

RELATED: Police: Woman shot, killed by ex-boyfriend on Thanksgiving

"I don't remember anything from that night whatsoever, thank God," said Smith.

A critically wounded Chris Smith was discovered in his kitchen. A bullet is still in his brain.

"My neighbor found me on the floor 14 hours later with my dog cuddled up next to me, trying to keep me warm," said Smith.

Nearly three months after the shooting, Smith is paralyzed on the left side of his body, unable to walk and struggling emotionally. He's now undergoing rehabilitation three times a week and staying with his parents.

"I cannot really move my hand. I lost my friend, my house, my business, my dog, my truck, and most of all, I lost my independence. I'm 49 years old and now I'm back living with my parents. I'm grateful that I survived the shooting, but this is horrible. I just want my life back," shouted Smith.

"We are praying for a miracle. He's always had so much energy and been on the move. As a mom, I want to make everything right for him, but I can't and it breaks my heart," said Sharon Costanza, Smith's mom.

Meantime, Robert Tarr, Leslie Reeves' ex-boyfriend, is charged with first-degree and attempted murder.

"He took her life too. She had two kids also. They lost their mother. I want him to rot in jail. I had one evil man just take it all from me," said Chris Smith.

A special fund is set up to help Smith pay off his 2009 Ford F-150 xx4. 

Anyone who wants to donate to that may go to Chrissmithtruckfund.com.

A GoFundMe page is also set up to help Smith with his medical bills.

RELATED: Family calls survivor of Thanksgiving eve shooting 'our Christmas miracle'

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