Today a Texas judge ruled that Don Collins, 29, may be tried for murder as an adult in the case of Robbie Middleton, 8, who named Collins as the 13-year-old boy who in 1998 raped him, doused him in gas, set him on fire and left him for dead.
It took Robbie 13 years to die of complications from the third-degree burns sustained to 99% of his body in the attack. Despite a confession from Collins, confirmed by Robbie, at the time police felt they lacked the evidence to pursue the case.
In a deathbed video taken in 2011, Robbie named Collins as his attacker. Robbie died just before his 21st birthday of skin cancer brought on by the cadaver skin grafts applied over the course of over 200 surgeries to cover the damage he sustained in the attack.
Collins spent a few months in a juvenile detention facility, and went on to rape another 8-year-old boy thee years later, a crime for which he was convicted in 2001. Robbie’s parents won a wrongful death suit against Collins in 2011 after Robbie’s death.
Collins’ second victim, now an adult, testified at this week’s hearing that after the rape Collins threatened to burn him if he told anyone. Other witnesses testified to Collins’ having confessed that he was responsible for the attack on Robbie Middleton. At 13, Collins would not have been old enough to have been charged as an adult in 1998, but attorneys for the Middleton family are arguing that the murder did not occur until 2011.
Collins’ attorney, E. Tay Bond, argued unsuccessfully that there is no new evidence to tie his client to the assault on Robbie, and that trying him as an adult in this case is a violation of Collins’ rights.
Collins was released from prison in September 2013, at which time the Middleton’s attorney, David Walker, who is working the case pro bono, filed felony-murder charges against Collins that month. Since then, Collins has again been incarcerated, this time for failing to register as a sex offender. He is currently facing ten years and is being held in prison, in lieu of a $1,000,000 bond.