Reading the details about Catherine Alexandrowicz’s death brought more anguish to Judge Jeffrey Cates than any case he’d seen in 26 years on the bench.
On Friday, before the Maricopa County Superior Court judge sentenced her killer to 19 years in prison, the maximum under a plea agreement, Cates grilled Anthony Kircus about a crime "that doesn’t make sense to me."
Kircus, 33, left most questions unanswered, saying he and his bride were drunk when he beat and strangled her on their honeymoon in a Scottsdale hotel room Sept. 7, 2003.
"I just wonder if you’re using your lack of memory as an excuse," Cates said.
Kircus and Alexandrowicz, a 47-year-old mother of five, met each other in Michigan about a year after Alexandrowicz left a 25-year marriage.
"We hit it off because we accepted each other’s drinking," Kircus said.
Their lifestyle revolved around alcohol, but Kircus was a violent drunk who was accused of beating and choking a former girlfriend in 2001.
Her ex-husband, Jeff Alexandrowicz, said from Michigan on Friday that he doesn’t understand why she would abandon five beautiful children — who are now 3 to 16 — for the sake of alcohol and to marry a "brutal stranger."
"I can only say with certainty that she lost a very long battle with her demon and it’s very, very sad," he said.
Catherine Alexandrowicz’s older sister, Linda Kennedy, a Litchfield Park resident, said the relationship with Kircus was a "deep, dark secret," and if the family had known about Kircus’ background, which included prison stints for a serious drunken-driving crash and embezzlement, they would have intervened.
Catherine Alexandrowicz was an avid sailor and golfer and heavily involved with her children’s activities.
"If you admired something she had, she’d buy you one,"
Kircus vowed that he loved her and said he was raised with morals, and that he doesn’t even have it in him to kill the roaches in his jail cell.
"But you killed Cathy," Cates shot back.
The judge reminded him that he lacked the decency to call police when he realized his wife was dead, leaving her body while he gambled.
"You are a lucky man," Cates said. "You’re going to get out of prison; you’ll see another day."