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Mum testifies in her own murder trial and sends ex-boyfriend to prison for life

Claire Reid

Published 
| Last updated 

A woman who testified at her own murder trial helped to send her ex-boyfriend to prison for life.

Mum-of-two Judy Malinowski was doused in petrol and set alight during an argument with her ex-boyfriend Michael Slager on 2 August, 2015.

The flames that engulfed Judy left her with burns covering 95 percent of her body and in the months that followed, Judy underwent more than 50 surgeries, including numerous skin grafts and the amputation of her arm.

Tragically, despite the best efforts of medics, she passed away on 27 June, 2017.

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But from beyond the grave, Judy was able to address the judge and jurors at Slager’s trial - helping to guarantee he paid for his crimes.

Her story is featured in the new documentary The Fire That Took Her, in which excerpts from her court testimony are shared.

Talking about the horrific attack, Judy was able to tell the court: “I don’t think words can describe what it feels like to have your whole body set on fire.

Mum-of-two Judy Malinowski was doused in petrol and set alight by her ex-boyfriend. Credit: Paramount +
Mum-of-two Judy Malinowski was doused in petrol and set alight by her ex-boyfriend. Credit: Paramount +
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“I thought for sure I was dying. I just prayed to Jesus to please forgive me for my sins and to take care of my children, and that was it. I blacked out. I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital.”

The pair had initially been arguing when Judy had thrown a drink over Slager, who then ran to his truck and collected three cans of petrol which he proceeded to pour over Judy.

In her testimony, Judy branded him ‘evil’ before explaining how Slager ‘backed away from me for about 30 seconds’.

She went on: “I kept telling him to please help me and ‘Stop’ and ‘I’ll get in the truck, I’ll go with you’ ... and he pulled a lighter out of his pocket, and he started walking towards me. I just remember crying and begging for help, and he lit me on fire.

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Judy Malinowski was able to testify at her own murder trial. Credit: Paramount +
Judy Malinowski was able to testify at her own murder trial. Credit: Paramount +

“And the look in his eyes ... his eyes went black, literally. After I was set on fire and he backed away, his eyes just turned black as I screamed for his help. And he did nothing.”

Judy was rushed to hospital where she slipped into a coma.

Slager had told authorities it had been an accident and claimed he dumped the petrol on her after she threw a drink over him. He claimed she caught fire after she sat on some nearby grass and asked him for a light for a cigarette.

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However, cops saw through his version of events and Slager was immediately placed under arrest and charged with felonious assault and aggravated arson.

At trial he was given 11 years in prison - the maximum he could have received for that crime in Ohio at the time.

Killer Michael Slager got life without the chance of parole. Credit: Paramount +
Killer Michael Slager got life without the chance of parole. Credit: Paramount +

But when Judy regained consciousness she was not happy with Slager’s punishment and pushed to increase the maximum sentence for felonious assault by five to 20 years for people who intentionally maim or disfigure others.

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The bill, dubbed Judy’s Law, passed in September 2017 - three months after she died.

Meanwhile, Slager - who is now facing the death penalty - pleaded guilty to murder.

Speaking posthumously at her trial, Judy said: “I live with horrible pain every day, I would never wish upon anybody.

“I would like to see [Slager] charged with murder and do a life sentence. I think that he deserves that.”

The judge agreed and he was given life with no chance of parole.

Topics: Crime, True Crime, TV And Film

Claire Reid
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