Man accused of tying boy to tree and setting him on fire could be charged with murder
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's been 15 years since authorities say then eight-year-old Robert Middleton was tied to a tree and set on fire and burned on over 99 percent of his body. The teen suspect was never charged until Wednesday.
That teen suspect is now a 28-year-old man. Don Collins faces a charge of first-degree murder for that 1998 brutal burning incident. On Wednesday, Collins appeared in court for a detention hearing, and as we learned, this case could be thrown out before it even goes to trial.
As Collins slowly made his way into the Montgomery County Courthouse, waiting in court was Colleen Middleton.
"Wherever he turned, there we're going to be be, no matter how long it takes," Colleen said.
It's been 15 years since she's come face to face with the man she says tied up her eight-year-old son to a tree in 1998, poured gas all over him and lit him on fire.
"It was hard to watch him to suffer and die. That was especially hard," she said.
Robert had severe burns over 99 percent of his body. He died in 2011 of cancer that doctors attributed to his burns. His case went cold for 15 years. His killer was never caught.
"The cold case detectives have spent about seven to eight months now investigating this case," Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright said.
The investigation now includes more than 50,000 pages of case work and dozens of witnesses. Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright says even with all that...
"The case is still in juvenile court," he said.
If a judge doesn't allow Collins to be tired as adult, Lambright says the case is over.
And that's not all.
"It's going to be very hard for Mr. Collins to get a fair trial. Of course, we don't know if he can even get a fair trial," Collins' attorney, E. Tay Bond, said.
"I felt like Robert died feeling as if he didn't matter," Colleen Middleton said.
The Montgomery County attorney said Robert did testify that Collins allegedly sexually assaulted him before he was burned. He also said Collins allegedly sexually assaulted other young kids and even threatened to burn one of them if he told anyone about the sex assault.
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