Less than five months before she died, Judy Malinowski gave a video deposition that was supposed to be used in the trial of the man who had set her on fire.
It turns out her testimony prevented her killer from facing the death penalty.
At the conclusion of the deposition, portions of which were played July 5 in a crowded Franklin County courtroom, Assistant Prosecutor Warren Edwards asked Malinowski what she thought should happen to Michael W. Slager if she died of the burns he inflicted.
"I think he should be charged with murder and to a life sentence," she replied.
She got her wish July 5 when Slager, 43, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole as part of an agreement that took the death penalty off the table.
Malinowski's mother, Bonnie Bowes, said after the hearing that "it was the right outcome because it's what Judy wanted."
Common Pleas Judge Guy Reece told Slager that Malinowski, despite all her suffering, gave a sentencing recommendation that "showed more compassion than you showed that day ... No one should have to endure what she endured."
The plea agreement came together within the previous 48 hours, county Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said. Potential jurors had been scheduled to arrive at the courthouse July 6 to begin what was expected to be a lengthy jury-selection process for Slager's trial.
Slager doused Malinowski, his estranged girlfriend, with gasoline during an argument behind a Gahanna gas station in August 2015. He told investigators he accidentally set her on fire seconds later while trying to light a cigarette for her.
Malinowski, "from her grave, would have been able to rebut that claim," O'Brien said.
She testified during the deposition that she had no cigarettes at the time of the incident and that Slager didn't set her on fire by accident.
He approached her with a cigarette lighter in his hand as she begged for mercy, Malinowski testified, "and the look on his face was pure evil. There are no other words to describe it."
Despite the horrific and debilitating nature of her injuries, which are visible on the video, Malinowski's voice was clear throughout the deposition, about an hour of which was shown during the hearing.
When given an opportunity to speak, Slager turned and offered a brief apology to Malinowski's family and friends, including Bowes and one of Malinowski's two daughters, 14-year-old Kaylyn.
"I'd like to believe it was genuine," Bowes said afterward. "Judy was so kindhearted, she would have said, 'Mom, that's acceptable. It's what I wanted.' "
Bowes used much of her statement in court to speak about her daughter's courage and the horrors of domestic violence.
Slager's attorneys, Mark C. Collins and Robert Krapenc, spoke about how the relationship between the victim and defendant was complicated by Malinowski's opiate addiction.
The argument behind the gas station was partly triggered by Malinowski's resistance to being taken by Slager to a drug-treatment center that day.
Malinowski suffered burns so extensive that doctors expected her to die within hours of the incident, but she survived for nearly two years.
Slager pleaded no contest in December 2016 to charges of felonious assault, aggravated arson and possession of criminal tools. Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch found him guilty and imposed the maximum sentence of 11 years, which he is serving at the Toledo Correctional Institution.
After Malinowski died of her burns in June 2017 at age 33, a county grand jury returned a death penalty indictment against Slager for aggravated murder.
A court order allowed Malinowski to give a video deposition from her hospital bed in the final months of her life. Reece ruled in April that prosecutors could use the deposition in Slager's trial, denying a defense motion to suppress the video.
O'Brien said he could find no other case in which a homicide victim's testimony was preserved on video for use at trial.
It's also unheard of, he said, "that we have the direct request from the victim in a homicide as to what kind of penalty" should be imposed.