On June 28, 1998, Robbie Middleton celebrated his eighth birthday.
Late in the afternoon, he walked through the woods behind his house to meet a friend for a sleepover. But soon after, he was attacked by a monster.
A young assailant tied Robbie to a tree, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire in a horrific crime in Splendora, Texas, according to ABC.
But thanks to Robbie’s deathbed testimony for him, a Texas boy was finally able to get justice after 17 years.
The perpetrator received the maximum sentence allowed, and Robbie’s family received the highest damages ever imposed in the United States.
Robbie’s tragic story begins in the state of Texas.
He was a normal boy who went to school. But on the day of his eighth birthday, he met a monster that would completely destroy him and his family.
Don Collins, then 13, kidnapped Robbie, tied him to a tree, and poured gasoline on the boy before setting him on fire.
The horrific attack took place near Robbie’s home in Splendora, Texas.
Robbie was on his way to a friend’s house when he ran into Don, writes the Huffington Post.
Hell left Robbie with third-degree burns to 99 percent of his body; no one expected him to survive.
Despite the flames devouring his body, Robbie managed to stagger to his house and collapsed in the street as a ball of burned meat.
His mother, terrified of him, found him near death, with severe blisters covering his entire body and his skin hanging from his ankles.
Hospital staff explained to the Middleton family that Robbie would not survive. He endured more than 150 operations and spent most of his days in a rehabilitation center after his burns.
Although he was severely traumatized and disfigured, Robbie quickly became known for his optimism.
“The past is the past,” he said. “You have to let it go.”
Unfortunately, ten years after the attack, Robbie’s body began to fail.
He received a cancer diagnosis that doctors said was directly related to his numerous burns. At the age of 20, Robbie’s third-degree burns developed into deadly skin cancer.
US courts ruled his death a murder. Don Collins had been suspected of the crime, but was released due to lack of evidence: the only witness was an eight-year-old boy.
But on his deathbed, the Middleton family attorney took new testimony from Robbie. He confirmed that Don committed the horrible crime, with the words, “Don did it.”
In the video, the court heard Robbie confirm what happened. Just before he died, Robbie Middleton told investigators:
”Don grabbed my shoulder and poured gasoline on my face. After that, I really don’t remember anything.”
The attorney recorded his testimony, and in February 2015, a Galveston court convicted the now 29-year-old perpetrator.
Defense attorney Tay Bond brought Collins to the stand just before closing arguments.
Once he was sworn in, Collins told the court that he was defending the Fifth Amendment and wished to remain silent. Montgomery County Chief Prosecutor Rob Freyer then made an impassioned plea for jurors to convict Collins.
Since he was only 13 years old at the time of the crime, he received the most severe sentence the state could impose: 40 years behind bars.
“Today that little boy can strike back,” prosecutor Rob Freyer said during his closing statement in court, according to USA Today.
“Today is the day you pay.”
The attorney reported during the prosecution that the motive for the crime was that Don sexually assaulted Robbie two weeks before the attack.
In the video, Robbie tells the lawyer that Don did it to silence him. According to Robbie, just a few days before he was set on fire, Collins had raped him in the same woods.
Eventually Robbie admitted what had happened. After all those years…
The jury saw the video in which Robbie confessed everything from the hospital bed, 17 days before his death.
Another now-grown man came forward and testified that Don also molested him when he was little, according to ABC.
In addition, Robbie’s family received the highest damages ever awarded in the US: $150 billion, The Telegraph claims.
But all the money in the world won’t bring Robbie back to his family.
In the city of Galveston, Robbie Middleton Day has been established each year on Robbie’s birthday on June 28, to remember him.
Robbie’s story has touched many people around the world over the years, and his family has repeatedly shared his ordeal with the news.
We must never forget Robbie. For him to live so long without telling what really happened…
Even with all of his pain, he found the time and energy to raise money for other burn victims. He was a true hero and we will miss him.
He is horrible. Never hesitate to tell someone when something is wrong, whether it’s a friend, teacher, mom, dad, or someone else. Please share this to honor his memory.
Rest in peace, Robbie (6/28 1990 – 4/29 2011). ❤️