By Jon King /

After years of legal wrangling, a judge has ruled that a defense expert will be allowed to testify in the upcoming re-trial of Jerome Kowalski

In 2013, Kowalski was sentenced to life in prison for his conviction in the murders of his brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home in 2008. Last year, that conviction was vacated following the revelation that ex-Judge Theresa Brennan, who presided over the case, was having an inappropriate relationship with the lead prosecution witness.

One of the issues that Kowalski’s defense had with the first trial was Brennan’s refusal to allow an expert witness on false confessions. 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. A motion by Kowalski’s defense that Dr. Richard Ofshe, an expert in police interrogations, be allowed to testify during the retrial was granted Tuesday by Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart, who is presiding over the retrial. Stewart ruled that while Ofshe cannot testify on any case-specific testimony related to Kowalski's case, he could testify about the generalities of false confessions.

Kowalski’s attorney, Mark Gatesman, told WHMI that they were “pleased” with the ruling, which Gatesman says established that Dr. Ofshe is both an expert in police interrogation and false confessions and that his testimony would assist the jury in an evaluating Kowalski’s statements to police. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt declined to comment on the ruling.

Dates for the retrial have yet to be set. If convicted a second time, Kowalski would face up to life in prison.