Ohio lawmakers hold first hearing on ‘Judy’s Law’

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A bill proposing tougher penalties for certain felonious assault cases had its first hearing at the Statehouse Tuesday.

House Bill 63 is known as “Judy’s Law,” named after Judy Malinowski, a Gahanna woman who was doused in gasoline and set on fire in 2015. She remains hospitalized with horrific burns. Her ex-boyfriend, Michael Slager, is serving 11 years in prison for aggravated arson, the most serious count he faced.

Representative Jim Hughes (R-District 24) is sponsoring the bill and gave testimony at the bill’s first hearing in the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee.

“The judge and the prosecutor did their job the best they could under current law,” Hughes said. “It’s now time for us in the legislature to do our job to ensure that victims like Judy receive the justice they deserve.”

Judy’s great-aunt, Kathleen Fornes, is heartbroken over what Judy and her family have had to endure.

“I have seen the suffering that Judy has gone through, like no human being should ever have to suffer,” Fornes said. “This family will never be the same. Not after 11 years. He [Slager] will have his life back in 11 years, but she never will.”

Slager was also charged with felonious assault, but the maximum sentence for that is only eight years. Judy’s Law would give judges the option to tack on an additional five to 20 years to a defendant’s sentence in felonious assault cases where the victim is permanently and seriously disfigured, experiences “substantial incapacity” or an accelerant is used.

“I think we’re sending a message that this type behavior is not going to be tolerated in Ohio,” Hughes said. “I have not had one person say that this person should not get more time.”

Judy’s family said they hope this will become a law, so Judy’s fighting won’t be in vain.

“Every day that she goes through, the misery that she goes through—that something will be accomplished,” Fornes said. “Something positive will come from all of this, that there will be grace in all of this.”

Mark Bowes, Judy’s younger brother, said he wishes this bill would have passed before all of this happened. He said he’s concerned about what will happen when Slager gets out but hopes and prays he’ll change.

“And something will happen that, ten years from now, he won’t be the same man that he is now and the same man that could have done that to my sister,” Bowes said.

The bill will likely have a couple more hearings in committee during the next few weeks.

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