Prosecutor says judges need more discretion in 'horrific crime' sentences

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 06:49:23-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- A Columbus-area woman who was set on fire by her ex-boyfriend inspired a new law that adds six years in prison for felonious assaults involving an accelerant to burn a victim.

But some, like Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell, say the law is not enough.

"All of a sudden, we get to the end of the legislative session, prior to the budget, and it essentially gets gutted," Fornshell said of the bill.

Fornshell expressed his frustration on Facebook, writing he's "very disappointed in the Ohio Legislature." He said lawmakers had originally intended to make a broader law.

"The original legislation that was proposed would give judges discretion in yearly increments to be able to add an additional five through 20 years," he said.

The broader law Fornshell wanted would have implications for convicted child abusers like several convicted in Warren County who are all serving eight-year sentences, the maximum.

"I'm talking about infants who are beaten to the point where they'll never see," Fornshell said. "They'll never talk. They'll never walk. They'll never hear."

Fornshell says the ACLU in Ohio lobbied against the broader legislation. The ACLU declined to comment for this story.

The ACLU Ohio website states that the group asked Ohio lawmakers to "stop acting as a factory that produces new crimes and longer sentences to support an uninterrupted flow of prisoners..."

Judy's Law was named after Judy Malinowski, who died after nearly two years in a hospital after her ex-boyfriend, Michael Slager, doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.

Slager was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the attack. Authorities have said they plan to pursue a murder charge since Malinowski died.