Judy Malinowski, a 33-year-old Ohio mother of two burned by her ex-boyfriend two years ago, has died, her family said. Malinowski’s tragic story has inspired Ohio legislators to propose a bill that would make punishments for intentional disfigurement even tougher. Meanwhile, prosecutors are considering charging the ex-boyfriend, Michael Slager, for aggravated murder.
Malinowksi was burned by Slager in August 2015, outside of a Gahanna, Ohio gas station after the two got into a fight. Since then, she has been hospitalized and underwent 59 surgeries. Slager agreed to plead guilty to charges and is serving an 11-year sentence.
She had two daughters, including 13-year-old Kaylyn Malinowski. Just last week, she testified before a State Senate committee to support “Judy’s Law.”
“While he got 11 years, my mom, my sister and I all got a life sentence,” Kaylyn said, reports NBC4i. “While we stand here today, my mom lays in a hospital bed where she has been for 689 days.”
Here’s what you need to know about Malinowski’s story.
1. Michael Slager Was Only Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison for Burning Malinowski
Malinowski was burned in August 2015 after an argument with the 42-year-old Slager, a witness told authorities. The Associated Press reports that the witness called 911 and saw Malinowksi being set on fire. The witness said the suspect used a fire extinguisher to stop the flames. Police said Slager himself suffered minor burns.
Slager’s attorney initially called the incident a “horrible accident,” the AP reports. He was charged with felonious assault and aggravated arson.
In December 2016, Slager pleaded no contest and received a max sentence, People Magazine reported at the time. The maximum sentence for his crimes was 11 years.
In the case had gone to trial, Malinowksi was determined to testify against Slager. In December 2016, her mother, Bonnie Bowes, told the Columbus Dispatch that she thought her daughter was “holding on” just so she could make it to the trial. Prosecutors even expected Malinowksi to testify via Skype since she was too weak to leave the hospital.
2. Prosecutors Are Now Considering Pressing Murder Charges Against Slager
Before Malinowski’s death, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said he would consider pressing aggravated murder charges against Slager. NBC4i reports that his office has now put that in motion.
Back in January, ABC6 reported that a judge ruled that Malinowksi could testify against Slager in a murder trial.
Doctors said it was likely that Malinowksi would die because of her injuries, as she had burns on 90 percent of her body. A judge said prosecutors could record testimony from Malinowski’s bedside. Slager could have been there to ask questions himself, but her doctors said that was a bad idea because it could cause stress.
As the Columbus Dispatch notes, Slager and his attorney have continued to claim it was an accident. “Clearly if this was intentional I would never have tried to put the flames out and suffered the burns I did,” Slager wrote to the Dispatch from jail.
3. A GoFundMe Account Has Raised Over $35,000 for Malinowski
A GoFundMe account created in December 2016 has raised over $35,000 to help Malinowski’s family. Since her death, the number of donations has only continued to climb.
NBC4i viewers also raised $3,000 for her family. They will use the money for funeral expenses and plan to have the funeral open to the public.
A Judy Malinowski Fund has also been set up and donations can be made at any Huntington Bank branch in Ohio. You can also send cards to this address:
c/o NBC 4
3165 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43202
4. Malinowski’s Case Has Inspired Legislation for Tougher Punishments for Disfigurement
Malinowksi’s story has garnered so much attention inside Ohio and across the country that lawmakers in the state decided they needed to do something.
Rep. Jim Hughes, a Republican from Upper Arlington, told The Columbus Dispatch that her story shows that there needs to be more severe punishments for criminals who disfigure or disable their victims. Judge Julie Lynch, who gave Slager his 11-year sentence, also said she was frustrated that she was limited by law.
In May, the bill unanimously passed in the Ohio House. The law will add six years to a prison sentence if the victim is disfigured or if an accelerant was used in the attack.
The Ohio Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.
5. Malinowksi Had 2 Daughters, Aged 10 & 13
Malinowksi is survived by two daughters, aged 10 and 13. Her oldest daughter, Kaylyn Malinowski, showed incredible strength just last week when she testified before a State Senate committee to support passage of Judy’s Law.
As ABC6 notes, Kaylyn said she was speaking for her mother, noting that Malinowski won’t be there for many of the important moments in her life.
“She won’t be there to do my hair or spot me on my tumble. She won’t see me graduate or see me get married,” Kaylyn told the state senators.
“While we stand here today, my mom lives in a hospital bed where she has been for 689 days. She has been in a lot of pain, and everyday is another fight to stay alive,” Kaylyn said on June 20. “Please pass my mom’s law because together we can prevent these types of situations. We can prevent this from happening to other families.”
A video of Malinowski was also played during the committee hearing.
“It destroyed my life, my family’s life, my kid’s life, everyone around us’ life and the laws of justice are just not fair,” Malinowksi said.
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