After 16 years, justice is finally served for Robert Middleton, who was 8-years-old when he was sexually abused and set on fire on his birthday by a then-13-year-old boy, according to the Huffington Post. Donald Collins, now 29, was found guilty of capital murder Monday by Texas jurors.
On June 28, 1998, 8-year-old Middleton left his home in Splendora, Texas, and began walking to a friend’s house on a wooded trail. Apparently, he was having a birthday party at his home and wanted to invite his friend. But before reaching his destination, he was attacked by then-13-year-old Collins and was tied to a tree, doused in gasoline, and afterwards set on fire, according to Daily Mail.
The burns covered 99 percent of Middleton’s body, where he had to undergo 150 surgeries and physical therapy. He later developed skin cancer, which doctors say is common for burned victims.
Middleton survived the brutal attack, but later died in 2011, just before turning 21, due to skin cancer, which was cultivated from the burns.
Collins was arrested for setting the Texas boy on fire in 1998, but a judge later dropped the charge due to lack of evidence.
However, before Middleton’s demise, he made a video where he accused Collins of the crime for the first time, including rape that occurred two weeks prior to the fire incident.
Police officials believed Collins set the 8-year-old boy on fire to silence him.
In the video, Middleton uttered the words, ‘Don grabbed me, turned me around and threw gas in my face.’
The video was enough to reopen the case and try Collins for capital murder. When Collins learned of the case reopening, he was already incarcerated for the conviction of sexual assault of an 8-year-old boy.
Since the attack took place when he was 13-years-old, Collins will not be facing the death penalty. He will be facing up to 40 years in prison.
“I hope he gets 40 years. That’s the most he can get,” Colleen Middleton stated, the victim’s mother.
In court, Chief prosecutor Rob Freyer referred to Collins as a “child rapist, murderer, and a monster.” The prosecutor also said to jurors that “today, after so many days, after so many tears, after so much pain and frustration with the system, today that little boy gets to hit back.”
Afterwards, he turned to Collins and stated, “Today is the day that you pay.”
After 40 witnesses testified in the case, Texas jurors deliberated for more than three hours before making their decision on Monday. When they came back with a guilty verdict, Colleen simply smiled and stated that Middleton would have been “extremely happy because he was so afraid that Mr. Collins would harm another child.”
Collin’s sentencing for his capital murder charge will begin on Tuesday.
[Image via Huffington Post]