Judge: Jury will hear recorded testimony of woman who died after being set on fire

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An emotional debate leads to a ground-breaking court ruling.

A jury will hear the testimony of New Albany mother Judy Malinowski, who died last summer.

Malinowski died last June, nearly two years after her ex-boyfriend set her on fire.

Before she died, she gave sworn testimony to be used in the event of her death.

Now, in a first of its kind case, a jury will hear her testimony in the trial of her accused killer.

In December of 2016, Michael Slager was convicted of aggravated arson and felonious assault.

Doctors told a court that Judy would not survive her injuries, and prosecutors began laying the groundwork to charge Slager with her murder.

"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," said Judge Guy Reece in court Friday.

The court allowed prosecutors to record Malinowski's sworn testimony in January 2017.

"The defense has argued that to allow this deposition to be used violates the defendant's rights to a fair trial, and due process rights," Reece said. "A criminal defendant's right to confrontation is of paramount importance. The defendant in this case did have an opportunity to confront the accuser, to subject her to cross-examination. Two-thirds of the deposition consists of cross-examination."

Bonnie Bowes, Judy's mother, has been in court for every hearing, for every procedural argument.

She says this one was especially important.

"To me, it was whether or not Judy's voice was going to be heard. Judy went to her grave thinking that- she went through this traumatic experience and she went to her grave thinking that the judicial system would unseal her side of the story. So it was really important to me that that happens."

Michael Slager's trial is set for July. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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