"She may be the only victim to testify in their own murder trial." So says the defense attorney for Michael Slager, who is accused of dousing his ex-girlfriend, Judy Malinowski, with gasoline and setting her on fire in 2015. The Ohio woman survived nearly two years before dying in 2017 at age 33; Slager, 42, pleaded no contest in 2016 to charges including arson and assault, and is now charged with her murder. Last week, a judge ruled that a "deathbed testimony" Malinowski gave will be used at the trial, People reports. The judge said the situation is unprecedented, the AP reports. Malinowski, who was burned over about 90% of her body in the attack, testified against Slager from her hospital room five months before she succumbed to her injuries, Fox News reports.
Slager's attorneys tried to claim prosecutors improperly obtained the video testimony, but the judge noted that "the State wanted to preserve her testimony due to her fragile medical condition. She was critically ill, and was the only witness who could testify about the events that transpired on the day of her injury." He also found that the defendant did have his right to confrontation recognized, as two-thirds of the deposition was cross-examination by Slager's lawyers, 10 News reports. "Judy ... went through this traumatic experience and she went to her grave thinking that the judicial system would unseal her side of the story," her mother says. "So it was really important to me that that happens." Slager's trial is set to begin in July; prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. (Read more murder trial stories.)