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

"My son opened his eyes last week and that's why he is my Christmas present. He's fighting," said Sharon Costanza

FARMERSVILLE, Ill. — On the night before Thanksgiving, Christopher Smith and Leslie Reeves went on their first date at a bar in Farmersville, Illinois.

"They were both excited to meet each other. They had been talking about it for a week and a half and then they finally met at the bar just down the street from Chris' home," said Ashli Holcomb, Chris Smith's sister.

Holcomb said within hours, she and her family learned her brother's fun time with his friend took a violent turn.

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

"When I found out, I just screamed. I couldn't believe what my mom and daughter were telling me," said Holcomb.

Holcomb said a friend of Leslie Reeves called the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and asked for a welfare check at Chris Smith's Farmersville home, which is about 75 miles from St. Louis.

Deputies went there and found the 45-year-old Reeves shot to death in the living room.

A critically wounded, 48-year-old Smith was discovered in his kitchen.

Smith's sister said both were shot in their heads.

"My brother laid in his home bleeding, almost dying for at least 12 hours before paramedics and police showed up. It's just unbelievable what happened to him and his friend," said Ashli Holcomb.

One month later, Chris, a father of two, contractor and singer, is still in a Springfield, Illinois, hospital.

His family said after he was shot, Chris suffered multiple strokes and is now paralyzed on the left side of his body.

"The bullet is still in his head because the doctors cannot get it out," said Holcomb.

"I want to be able to fix him and I can't fix him. I don't know how to feel. This is supposed to be my life and it hurts," said Sharon Costanza, Chris' mom.

"He has a tracheotomy in his throat so he can't really talk. He has wiggled his fingers a little bit, but he still has a long way to go. My brother may never be the same. Doctors say he could be partially paralyzed for the rest of his life, but we never know because his body could heal itself and he could get better. You just never know," added Ashli Holcomb.

Chris opened his eyes last week for the first time, giving his family hope this Christmas.

"I think he's a miracle because he's survived all that thus far," said Smith's sister.

"Yeah, he's my Christmas present because he's awake and he's fighting. He's fighting real hard," said Chris' mom as she choked back tears.

Leslie Reeves was a mom and well-known business owner in Troy, Illinois.

Her ex-boyfriend, Robert Tarr of Collinsville, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Police haven't said anything about a motive for the shootings.

Today Tarr stood before a Montgomery County, Illinois judge for his preliminary hearing. The hearing was postponed until January third.

Meantime, Christopher Smith's family vows they will follow the case until the end.

"We are staying by my son's hospital bed and I want justice for my son. He did not deserve this," said Sharon Costanza.

Chris will undergo another surgery on Monday.

The suspect remains locked up on a $3 million bond.