Judy Malinowski testified in her own murder trial after being set on fire by her abusive ex

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A mother has revealed how her daughter bravely testified in her own murder trial before she died from her injuries.

Mother-of-two Judy Malinowski, then 31, was doused in petrol and set on fire by her crazed ex-boyfriend and bravely fought for her life for 700 days, losing her ears, fingers and eyesight.

Her mother Bonnie Bowes, 56, of Columbus, Ohio, USA, watched as her daughter suffered for almost two years after being attacked by Michael Slager in August 2015.

Judy suffered with third degree burns across 70 per cent of her body, but managed to survive long enough to give a video statement, declaring that Slager was the one responsible.

The footage was used in evidence against Slager in July 2018 and he was jailed for life without parole after pleading guilty to murder.

Now Bonnie, a project manager, is paying tribute to her brave daughter.

She says: ‘Even after going through unimaginable suffering, Judy never wanted Michael to get the death penalty.

‘I just hope her story is a warning to women who are in abusive relationships.’

In April 2006, Judy, who worked in customer service, was told her ovarian cancer had returned after beating the disease 15 months earlier.

Soon after, she underwent a full hysterectomy and became hooked on her pain medication.

With the help of a private rehabilitation centre, she overcame her addiction and later went into remission.

Bonnie says: ‘We’d always been close and spoke every day. I was so glad she’d recovered from her addiction and was getting her life back together.

‘Nine years later in May 2015, she told me she’d been dating a man named Mike.

‘I was pleased that she was happy but I had a bad feeling about him.’

As time passed, Judy revealed to her mum that Mike was controlling and even put a tracking device on her phone.

Bonnie remembers: ‘Police said they couldn’t do anything as there was no evidence.

‘Judy tried to end the relationship but Mike wouldn’t let her go.’

Two weeks later in August 2015, Judy called Bonnie saying that Mike was refusing to leave her house.

Bonnie says: ‘I rushed to her house where I met Mike for the first time. He seemed really arrogant.

‘I told him to leave or I’d call the police. But he sauntered around like he owned the place.

‘Eventually police officers arrived and removed him.

‘Judy told me that Mike had been giving her painkillers even though he knew about her previous troubles.

‘So she decided to return to rehab a week later. She didn’t want Mike to control her anymore.’

The day Judy left for rehab, Bonnie received a phone call from Ohio State University Hospital, saying that Judy had been in an accident and was on life support.

She says: ‘Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I got to the hospital.

‘My beautiful daughter was unrecognisable and in an induced coma.

‘Her thick, blonde hair was gone and she’d lost her eyelashes and eyebrows too.

‘A doctor revealed that she had third and fourth degree burns over 70 per cent of her body. They expected her to die within hours.

‘I was devastated.’

The next morning, police revealed Slager had followed Judy to a petrol station where they argued. Judy threw a drink over him and he hit her, before pouring gasoline over her. 

Bonnie says: ‘I couldn’t get my head around what had happened.

‘I told Judy’s daughters that their mum had been hurt by a very bad man and that I’d look after them.

‘Judy was forced to undergo 60 surgeries including skin grafts.

‘And seven months after her attack, she woke up from the coma. She was unable to walk and could barely speak above a whisper.

‘She lost her ears, fingers and most of her eyesight.

‘When she saw herself in a mirror two months later, she vowed that she would help other women.

‘Judy even recorded a statement from her hospital bed giving evidence against Mike as she knew she would die from her injuries.’

A year after the vicious attack, Slager was convicted of aggravated arson and felonious assault, and jailed for 11 years.

Bonnie says: ‘Then 700 days after she was attacked, Judy died.’

After Judy’s death, state prosecutors charged Michael with murder.

In July 2018, Michael Slager, 43, pleaded guilty to murder in a plea bargain meaning he avoided the death penalty.

He was jailed for life without parole.

During the hearing, the court was shown Judy’s brave testimony filmed from her hospital bed.

It was the first time that such evidence was allowed to be shown in court.

Bonnie says: ‘I’ve dedicated my life to raising her two girls and they make me proud everyday.

‘I’m telling Judy’s story to raise awareness of domestic violence.

‘While it will never bring back Judy, I want to help just one woman to escape the clutches of evil.

‘Remember the red flags, and get out of that relationship.

‘Thanks to Judy, the laws have been toughened here in the US and criminals now receive an extra six years in prison for crimes that result in the victim being permanently disfigured.’

 

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