COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The man accused of murdering Judy Malinowski appeared in a Franklin County courtroom on Thursday.
Michael Slager is facing the death penalty in this case. He’s charged with capital murder after he doused Malinowski with gas and set her on fire. She passed away earlier this year, after spending about two years in the hospital with horrific burns.
Judge Reece set a tentative trial date for July 6th, 2018. Judy’s mother, Bonnie Bowes, was there in the courtroom for the hearing. She said she’s still fighting to make sure her daughter’s voice is heard during the trial.
“I’m still hopeful that Judy’s testimony will be unsealed and she’ll be able to tell her story in her words,” she said.
Bowes said there’s no one better to tell Judy’s story than Judy herself. A month before she died, Judy’s deposition was recorded from her hospital bed.
“I think that because she’s gone why would we not let her tell her story? Certainly, he is going to be able to tell his story, whether it’s through the attorney or whether he actually takes the stand,” said Bowes.
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said they believe Judy’s testimony should be allowed in court.
Slager’s attorney Mark Collins said they’re trying to keep the deposition out.
“An element in a murder case is what the cause of death is, so how can you cross-examine someone about the cause of death if the death hasn’t occurred yet?” said Collins.
During the hearing, Judge Reece also asked about the possibility of a venue change because the case has received so much attention.
“We will file a motion to change venue, but the court can’t rule on that until you actually try to attempt to seat a jury,” said Collins.
“The I-270 shooter, we selected a jury in that case that received national publicity,” said O’Brien. “We believe that a fair and impartial jury can be selected in this case here in Franklin County, so that there’s no need for change of venue.”
Outside of the courtroom, Bowes said they’re working on raising enough money to start a non-profit foundation in Judy’s name.
“I was talking to her little girls about what do you want your mom’s legacy or foundation to be and they’re really excited about setting up the foundation for children, children of victims of domestic violence, care-takers,” she said. “The kids are the victim and they often are overlooked and there’s a gap. A gap where there’s nothing there, so we really need to uplift them fill that gap in, help them.”
Judy’s oldest daughter Kaylyn is 13-years-old. Bowes said her granddaughter is already wise beyond her years wanting to help keep family units together and out of foster care during situations similar to what they’re going through right now.
“To put it in Judy’s daughter’s words, ‘Albeit if it is counseling, if it is tutoring, whatever they need grandma. Let’s go after and help those kids in the family unit,’. So, I said ok, that’s going to be our goal,” said Bowes.