COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Judy Malinowski will be testifying about her own death in the trial of her accused killer, Michael Slager.
Judge Guy Reece ruled on Friday that the hour and forty-five minute sealed, taped deposition Malinowski gave before she passed away can be heard by a jury.
It’s considered to be the first time something like this has happened in an Ohio court. Judge Reece said it’s a unique case that took a lot of constitutional law review.
Malinowski died two years after Slager doused her with gasoline and lit her on fire.
“Judy fought to tell her story,” said her mother Bonnie Bowes. “I think it’s the first step towards what her legacy should and will be.”
She said her daughter suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns, covering about 90% of her body.
“She was extremely frail and she was burned, but yet could very clearly articulate what happened, where she was, fear, everything that you would expect,” said Bowes. “I’m so proud of her and I know one day I’ll see her, although my heart will be forever broken without her.”
Judge Reece said the state argued Malinowski went through 13 mental status examinations before her deposition was recorded from her hospital bed, showing she was a competent witness.
The defense argued the taped deposition violated Slager’s right to confrontation. Judge Reece disagreed stating the main purpose of confrontation is for the opponent to have the opportunity of cross examination.
“The defendant had an opportunity and similar motive to cross examine her and indeed that did occur,” he said. “The defense was able to put forth questions and obtain answers.”
Judge Reece said two-thirds of the 86 pages of Malinowski’s deposition were cross examination.
“It is what it is,” said defense attorney Mark Collins. “He (Judge Reece) gave a detailed account of what he believed the rules and the case law shows. Whether we disagree or not is not a big deal. We move forward and keep preparing for the case.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said despite Malinowski’s suffering — having coded seven times in the hospital, enduring dozens of surgeries and her fearfulness of Slager — she was still able to tell her story.
“Nevertheless she was able to effectively testify through the deposition and we look forward to presenting that,” he said
The prosecution said while parts of Malinowski’s deposition may be edited out, the jury at trial will hear what she had to say.
Slager’s trial will begin in July.