An Ohio man arrested in 2015 for pouring gasoline on his then-girlfriend and lighting her on fire was sentenced Monday to 11 years in prison

By Chris Harris
December 13, 2016 11:57 AM
Credit: Franklin County Common Court

An Ohio man arrested in 2015 for pouring gasoline on his then-girlfriend and lighting her on fire was sentenced Monday to 11 years in prison after being convicted of aggravated arson, possession of criminal tools and assault, PEOPLE confirms.

Michael Slager, 41, pleaded no contest to all three criminal counts just before his sentencing, according to a statement from Ron O’Brien, the prosecutor for Ohio’s Franklin County.

O’Brien said in his statement, which was obtained by PEOPLE, that Slager received the maximum sentence for his crimes.

On Aug. 2, 2015, police responded to a gas station in Gahanna, Ohio, after dispatchers received reports from several witnesses claiming a woman was engulfed in flames, set ablaze by a man who was later identified as Slager.

Authorities say the victim — Slager’s girlfriend, Judith Malinowski — was rushed to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in critical condition. According to O’Brien, Malinowski, 33, still remains in the hospital’s care and her condition remains unchanged.

A majority of her body bears scarring and she has undergone innumerable surgeries to keep her alive, O’Brien said. The attack left 90 percent of her body covered in third- or fourth-degree burns, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“Would she want to be like this? Would she want to go on?” Malinowski’s mother told the paper. “She would.”

“She’d want to stay to help someone — anyone,” Malinowski’s mother said. “Do you want to know why she was Miss New Albany? Because she was the sweetest kid there was. She had the nicest personality.” (Her family could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE.)

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Slager was also treated for burns he’d sustained in the altercation, authorities said.

Police said he initially characterized the conflagration as a “horrible accident,” but investigators learned from witnesses that the couple had been arguing just before Malinowski was set on fire.

At least one witness told police that Slager used a fire extinguisher to extinguish the flames.

Slager’s attorney, Robert Krapenc, could not immediately be reached for comment following the sentencing, and it was not immediately clear if he plans to appeal.

Krapenc has denied Slager intended to start the fire. But Malinowski’s family told the Dispatch she was afraid of him.

Before Slager’s plea and sentencing Monday, Malinowski’s mom told the Dispatch her daughter planned to testify — remotely, if she had to: “She’s fighting.”