Judy Malinowski was the victim of an unimaginable attack when her ex-boyfriend set her ablaze in front of a gas station in Ohio. Despite having 90% of her body burned, she fought for two years to survive and was determined to see her attacker brought to justice.
Just prior to her death, she recorded a videotaped deposition that was later played in court. She was one of the first individuals in U.S. history to testify at her own murder trial.
The Attack that Took Her
In August 2015, Judy Malinowski’s ex-boyfriend Michael Slager doused her with gasoline during an argument outside a gas station in Gahanna, Ohio. He then set her ablaze, resulting in her being consumed by flames.
Security camera footage captured the attack, including Slager’s trip to his truck to retrieve a cigarette lighter.
Malinowski eventually regained consciousness after being in a coma for eight months, but was in excruciating pain, especially during the twice-daily dressing changes required for her 90% body-covering burns. On June 27, 2017, nearly two years later, due to the severity of her injuries, she passed away.
In 2016, Slager accepted a plea agreement in which he entered an Alford plea, which did not require him to admit guilt but acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to convict him. He was given a sentence of eleven years for aggravated arson.
Bonnie Bowes, Malinowski’s mother, stated that Michael’s intention was to “silence her” and prevent her from publicly sharing her story.
Judy’s Determination to Get Justice
Malinowski was aware that her death was imminent and that her ex-boyfriend might be charged with murder. Accordance with Bowes
Malinowski was determined to testify and provide evidence that Michael set her on fire on purpose. Malinowski filmed the deposition, which included questions from the prosecution and defense cross-examination, despite being hospitalized. She even reduced her pain medication to increase her credibility as a witness.
During her testimony, Malinowski described her boyfriend’s threats as he poured gasoline over her body: “See what I’ll do to you, chick.” She also described how Slager approached her as she sobbed and pleaded for help, then set her ablaze. Malinowski testified that after setting her ablaze, Slager retreated and his eyes “just turned black.”
In January 2015, Bowes had reservations about Slager when he was first introduced to her daughter. Malinowski had recently overcome an opioid addiction, and Bowes had doubts about the intentions of her daughter’s new boyfriend. Bowes, describing the relationship as “toxic,” stated that Slager had physically assaulted her daughter, who had repeatedly contacted the police but never filed charges.
More than a year after her death, a video recording of Malinowski’s deposition was played during Slager’s sentencing hearing in July 2018. Slager changed his plea from not guilty to guilty at the eleventh hour, despite the fact that aggravated murder carries the possibility of the death penalty. Despite the gravity of the crime, Malinowski pleaded for clemency.
He was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Judy’s Case Led to a New Law–Judy’s Law
In 2017, Ohio, Malinowski’s home state, introduced legislation mandating harsher and longer sentences for perpetrators like Slager who intentionally disfigure their victims. This document was signed by Governor John Kasich.
The bill, known as Judy’s Law, stipulates that crimes resulting in permanent disfigurement or disfigurement of the victim are punishable by an additional six years in prison.