Don Wilburn Collins
December 22, 2011 by staff
Don Wilburn Collins, While Robert Ray Middleton did not live long enough to see justice served, a $150 billion civil jury award came Tuesday for the family of Middleton, who was severely burned as a boy in 1998 near his Splendora home.
Now, Middleton, who died last spring at the age of 20, also may finally get the justice he wanted in the form of criminal charges against the person he insisted deliberately set him on fire.
Middleton was 8 years old when someone tied him up, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. He was able to run from the woods where he was burned, and neighbors ran to help him.
With third-degree burns over nearly 100 percent of his body, Middleton clung to life for weeks until he recovered enough to undergo the first of countless skin grafts.
When he died last spring, the cause of death was ruled skin cancer, which his mother Colleen previously said was caused by his injuries from being burned.
A jury in La Grange awarded $150 billion in damages to Middleton’s family Tuesday. While family members know they won’t see any of that money, they are hoping the verdict will urge Montgomery County to reopen the case against Don Wilburn Collins, said Ken Bigham, one of the attorneys working pro bono for the Middletons in the civil case.
“They wanted this to put some kind of value on Robby’s life,” Bigham said Wednesday. “When Robby came to see me, all he wanted was for Don Collins to be prosecuted or to know why this happened.
“He wanted justice.”
Collins, currently imprisoned on an unrelated sexual assault charge of a boy, was never charged and denies involvement in Middleton’s death.
Montgomery County already has reopened its investigation, and the case is “still being worked on,” County Attorney David Walker said.
“We will do our best to prosecute this.”
Walker said his office will work in conjunction
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