COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – An air of melancholy cast a pall on the ceremonial signing of Judy’s Law Thursday in the Lincoln room at the state capitol.
A fire was smoldering just under the surface as Governor John Kasich’s voice cut sharply when talking about the need for the community to treat the surviving children of Judy Malinowski with love.
It was emotional and we would learn why later.
At the time, it started off like any other bill being signed into law, with the lawmakers and proponents responsible for crafting and pushing it through the legislature saying a few words.
Then both of Judy’s daughters read from comments they prepared themselves in advance.
Madison, who just turned 10 years old yesterday, gave her statement from the chair the governor usually sits in to turn legislation into law.
Afterward, Governor Kasich joined her on the chair. He was flanked by the girl’s older sister to his right.
“I didn’t really want to be part of this ceremony,” started Kasich. “Because, you know, you don’t want to be at a public event with a situation this tragic and think you have some great words, or whatever.”
What was there to say? The two girls lost their mother to a horrific act.
Judy Malinowski was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend.
She survived in the hospital for two years; long enough to see a new law crafted in her name.
Had she held on just a few more hours, she would have seen it pass unanimously.
Back in the Lincoln room, something was bothering Kasich; weighing heavily on his mind.
After several minutes of talking about how the community and the schools needed to show love to the girls, he called on parents to talk to their children about showing love to other kids.
Afterward, Madison revealed that other kids had been bullying the girls in school by making fun of their mother.
The girl’s grandmother Bonnie Bowes cares for the children now. She was with them at the signing and in the room when they met with Governor Kasich beforehand.
“He shared some personal experiences of his life with the girls that really, I think, brought some closure to the girls; but also will help them heal,” said Bowes.
Governor Kasich officially signed Judy’s about three weeks after she died.
It increases the jail sentence for using an accelerant like gasoline to injure someone.
The law goes into effect in a few weeks.