Years after a Texas boy was raped, tied to a tree and set on fire, justice was served.
On his 8th birthday in 1998, a boy tied Robbie Middleton to a tree, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire in the woods, the Daily Mirror reported.
Middleton was able to escape and stumble his way home, collapsing on the street.
His mother found him close to death, with severe blisters covering his whole body and skin hanging off his ankles. Nearly 100 percent of his body was burned, with just the soles of his feet remaining unscathed.
Though doctors told Middleton he wouldn’t survive, more than 150 operations and countless skin grafts allowed him to live for years.
Middleton was severely traumatized and disfigured, but quickly became known for his relentless optimism.
“The past is the past,” Middleton, who raised money for burn victims, often said. “You need to let it go.”
Dying in the hospital, Middleton sought justice and recorded a deposition, naming then 13-year-old Dan Collins as his attacker.
No motive was found and the Collins was acquitted.
In the deposition, however, Middleton revealed that Collins’ motive was to keep him silent. According to Middleton, just 17 days before he was lit on fire, Collins raped him.
“Don grabbed me by my shoulder and threw gas in my face, after that I don’t really remember anything,” Middleton said
Middleton died in April 2011 from his injuries, with investigators ruling his death a homicide.
His family was awarded $150 billion in a civil lawsuit against Collins— the largest in U.S. history.
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.
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.