The boy who was tied to a tree and set on fire finally received justice years after he died.
On his eighth birthday he was tied to a tree, doused in gasoline and set on fire.
The inferno left Robbie Middleton with third-degree burns to 99 per cent of his body. No-one expected him to survive.
But in a story of staggering courage, Robbie lived. He endured 200 operations and endless therapy to repair the burns.
“The past is the past,” Middleton, who raised money for burn victims, often said. “You need to let it go.”
Tragically, he was to die just weeks short of his 21st birthday from skin cancer. Third degree burns turned into skin cancer according to the doctors.
His attacker Dan Collins who was 13 years old at that time was acquitted due to lack of motive.
In a harrowing 17-minute video made just before he died, he named the man he believed had torched him in Splendora, Texas, in 1998.
And he also claimed that he had been raped by the same person, a 13-year-old neighbour called Don Collins, two weeks before being set alight.
“Don grabbed me by my shoulder and threw gas in my face, after that I don’t really remember anything,” Middleton said.
The terrible act was, Robbie alleged, a way of ensuring his silence.
His accusations have opened the way for Collins, now a 27-year-old convicted sex offender, to be charged with felony murder.
The charge is only made for a criminal offence which has happened in conjunction with another crime.
Montgomery County attorney David Walker is changing the charges in order to be able to prosecute Don Collins as an adult, despite the fact that committed the crime as a juvenile.
Mr Walker also hopes that the additional accusations of sexual assault will not only explain the torching, but also explain why it took so long for Mr Collins to be prosecuted.
‘It was done to prevent Middleton from talking,’ Walker told the Houston Chronicle. ‘It provides the bridge that we needed for the delay, rather than saying we didn’t have sufficient staffing or something else.’
Middleton’s family took his case to court, and in February of 2015, the jury sentenced 29-year-old Collins to 40 years in prison, the Houston Chronicle reported.
His family was awarded $150 billion in a civil lawsuit against Collins— the largest in U.S. history.
Since a 1998 law did not allow 13-year-olds to be tried as adults, Collins received the maximum sentence for his age at the time, and justice for Middleton was finally served.
Video Credit: YouTube