Awakening from Coma, Woman Hauntingly Testifies via Bone-Chilling Video in Her Own Murder Trial

In a groundbreaking event in US history, Judy Malinowski made history by testifying at her own murder trial. Tragically, at the age of 33, Judy passed away before justice could be served, but her courageous act ensured that her murderer would be held accountable.

Judy’s chilling video testimony, recorded from her hospital bed five months before her death, revealed the horrifying details of her ordeal. With 95% of her body covered in burns and her arm amputated due to severe scorching, it was evident even on video how much pain she endured. In the video, Judy explicitly named Michael Slager as her murderer, recounting how he had doused her in gasoline and set her on fire on August 2, 2015.


During her pre-trial deposition, Judy described Slager as “evil” and spent three hours detailing the incident. Her testimony was recorded five months before her tragic death on June 27, 2017, resulting from complications arising from the burns she had suffered.

Judy’s video testimony made her one of the first individuals in the United States to testify posthumously at their own murder trial. Her video, chronicling the fateful day of August 2, 2017, was featured in an MTV documentary titled “The Fire That Took Her.” In the film, she described how Slager had obtained cans of gasoline and proceeded to pour it over her, starting at her head and working his way down, even going down her throat. The severely burned Judy tearfully recalled begging for help as Slager approached her with a lighter, igniting the flames.

To ensure Judy’s coherence during her testimony, her pain medication had to be reduced. Eyewitnesses at the scene immediately called the police, prompting Slager to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher. ATM footage captured the moment when Judy fell to the ground engulfed in an orange flame.


At the time of the incident, Judy was 31 years old and had been engaged in a heated argument with the 40-year-old Slager. He already had a criminal history, including charges of domestic violence, sexual battery, child endangerment, stalking, and rape.

The couple had stopped at the gas station as Slager needed to buy cigarettes. They were en route to the Parkside addiction treatment center, where Judy was scheduled to undergo inpatient drug rehabilitation. Prior to the murder attempt, Judy, a young mother of two, had struggled with prescription medication addiction due to her ovarian cancer diagnosis at the age of 26.

To ensure her daughters’ safety, Judy had sent them to live with her mother, Bonnie Bowes, and sister Danielle Gorman. By early 2015, she had successfully overcome her addiction and regained custody of her daughters. In April of that year, Judy began dating Slager, who introduced her to heroin.

During cross-examination by Slager’s defense attorney, Bob Krapence, Judy admitted that Slager was the one who procured heroin for her, bringing home a gram of it every day. In the documentary chronicling her story, Judy’s mother, Bonnie Bowes, explained that Slager used drugs as a means of controlling and abusing her daughter. By having control over the drugs, he held power over Judy.


Sadly, Judy never had the chance to recover from her addiction as she never made it to rehab. Instead, she was rushed to Ohio University Wexner Medical Center, where medical staff held little hope for her survival. Despite witnessing numerous severe burn cases, Judy’s nurse, Stacey Best, expressed doubts about her chances of survival due to the extent of her burns. The combination of her age and the percentage of burns made her mortality rate alarmingly high.

Slager, who accompanied Malinowski to the hospital, maintained that the incident was a mere accident on his part. According to his account, in retaliation for Malinowski drenching him in soda during their heated exchange, he drenched her in gasoline. He claimed that when he bent down to light her cigarette while she sat on the grass near the station, her body suddenly caught fire. He professed to have had no prior knowledge that this would happen.

In recorded police body camera footage, Slager can be seen explaining to detectives at the time, “I walked over to give her a light and that was it.” This footage was later featured in the documentary.


Immediately following the incident, Slager was arrested and faced charges of felonious assault and aggravated arson. Initially, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but upon Malinowski’s death, the sentence was modified. However, Malinowski, who had emerged from an eight-month coma, expressed dissatisfaction with the punishment. With the support of her mother and daughters, she spearheaded a petition urging the state to pass House Bill 63, now known as Judy’s Law. This legislation aimed to increase the penalty for intentionally maiming or disfiguring others from 5 to 20 years.

In a video address to lawmakers, Malinowski advocated for the passage of House Bill 63, emphasizing how it had devastated her life, her family’s lives, and everyone around them. She believed that the existing laws of justice were unjust. In September 2017, just three months after her passing, Judy’s Law was officially passed.

Following Malinowski’s death, Slager faced the death penalty for murder and eventually pleaded guilty. During his hearing, Malinowski’s video testimony was played, in which she expressed, “I live with horrible pain every day, I would never wish upon anybody.” She addressed the court, stating her desire to see Slager charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison. The judge concurred with Malinowski’s wishes and sentenced Slager to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He is currently serving his sentence at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

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