Kowalski Murder Convictions Vacated; New Trial Likely
January 9, 2019
The man whose double-murder conviction is at the heart of the criminal charges against Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan is now back in the Livingston County Jail with a chance for a new trial.
Shiawassee County Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart signed an order Tuesday vacating the convictions for Jerome Kowalski tied to the 2008 slayings of his brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home. Brennan’s 2017 divorce case first brought to light allegations that she had been having an affair with a now-retired State Police detective, who served as the chief prosecution witness during Kowalski’s trial.
Testimony last fall during a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission hearing further detailed that relationship and resulted in the Michigan Attorney General’s Office issuing three felony charges against Brennan last month for destroying evidence in the divorce case related to her relationship with the detective and then lying about it under oath.
Kowalski has been serving a life sentence in the deaths. Immediately after the order, he was transferred from a state prison in Lapeer County to Livingston County jail. That’s according to Peter Van Hoek, the appellate lawyer who had been representing him. Van Hoek told the Detroit News, “The family is very happy,” and “This has been a long time coming.”
After the Judicial Tenure Commission concluded Brennan violated the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct by failing to disqualify herself from the Kowalski double-homicide trial, Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Valliencourt announced he would vacate the convictions and grant a new trial. (JK)