By Jon King /

A date has again been scheduled in the long-awaited retrial of the man formerly convicted in a Livingston County double homicide.

75-year-old Jerome Kowalski was sentenced to life in prison for his 2013 conviction in the murders of his brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home in 2008. However, that conviction was vacated in 2019 following the revelation that ex-Judge Theresa Brennan, who presided over the case, was having an inappropriate relationship with the lead prosecution witness, former State Police Detective Sean Furlong.

Court records now indicate that a date for a retrial is set to begin on January 10th. It follows a lengthy legal battle over whether and how the defense could present an expert witness on the issue of false confessions.

One of the issues that Kowalski’s defense had with the first trial was Brennan’s refusal to allow such testimony. Kowalski originally confessed to the murders, but quickly recanted, saying he had been in the throes of alcohol withdrawal and succumbed to pressure tactics by Furlong.

Kowalski’s defense team for his retrial, led by Howell attorney Mark Gatesman, had sought to allow testimony from Dr. Richard Ofshe, an expert in police interrogations. That request was granted last year by Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart, who is presiding over the retrial.

Stewart ruled that while Ofshe cannot testify on any specific testimony related to Kowalski's case, he could testify about the generalities of false confessions. That ruling was appealed by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, which is now prosecuting the case, but was subsequently upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Despite having his original conviction vacated, Kowalski has remained behind bars since his arrest in 2008. If convicted a second time, he would face up to life in prison.

Photo - Kowalski in court for a January 2020 hearing