Gahanna man pleads ‘no contest’ to setting girlfriend on fire

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — “You really do seem like one of those people that have no soul.” That’s what a Franklin County Judge told Michael Slager during sentencing Monday. The Gahanna man plead no contest to charges he set his ex girlfriend on fire last summer. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Fifteen months after the attack and 51 surgeries later, the victim, Judy Malinowski, is still hospitalized.

This week she was supposed to testify against Slager remotely from her hospital bed. Instead, in a surprise move Monday, he changed his plea.

You’ve done all the things that just really show what a despicable individual you are,” said Judge Julie Lynch with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

“I’ve seen your record so I know you have a history of domestic violence, you have a history of menacing.”

The attack happened behind a gas station in a Gahanna bank parking lot at Agler and Stygler Roads in August of 2015.

The prosecuting attorney said surveillance video shows Slager dousing the mom of two with gas, then setting her on fire. Her mother, Bonnie Bowes, spoke in court Monday.

“Judy has a life sentence. Her children have a life sentence,” said Bowes.

Expecting trial to start this week, she said she was surprised Slager changed his plea at the last minute.

“Judy I think wanted to tell her story. She has fought to stay alive to tell her story.”

Bowes said her daughter still has a long road ahead after losing her ears, fingers and fighting countless infections.

The judge said Slager has never been sorry.

“You need to be incarcerated. That’s all I have to say. Take him out.”

Slager did not make a statement in court, but in a letter sent to NBC4 this month he wrote, “The reason for this letter is because I want my side of the story to be told.” He also said, “My life was changed forever after this terrible tragedy accident that resulted from me trying to light Judy’s Malinowski’s cigarette.”

Slager was given credit for 365 days in jail already served. He will not be released before 10 years. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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