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Teen, now 28, to be tried as adult for setting 8-year-old boy on fire in 1998

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Don Willburn Collins, now 28-years-old and in prison, was only 13-years-old when he allegedly doused eight-year-old Robert Middleton with gasoline and set the boy on fire back in 1998 in Splendora, Texas. It was Middleton’s eighth birthday.

Middleton was burned across 99 percent of his body and endured years of physical therapy before he died in 2011 from skin cancer blamed on his burns. ~ Fox News

On March 6, a Texas judge ruled that although Collins was just a teenager at the time of the alleged assault, he will be tried as an adult for Middleton’s murder.

Collins was arrested in 1998 for the assault on Middleton and remanded to a juvenile detention center for several months, but was released due to not enough evidence available for prosecutors to pursue a case.

But in 2011, just before Middleton died, he videotaped a deposition wherein he “accused Collins for the first time of sexually assaulting him two weeks before the attack.”

The sexual assault allegation prompted investigators to reopen the case, and prosecutors charged the now 28-year-old Collins with murder last year -- but they needed to move the case from juvenile to adult court to take him to trial.

Collins was in court for three days for a hearing on the matter this week. During the hearing, witnesses came forth to testify that Collins “had confessed to them or others that he had been responsible for the attack on Middleton.”

Portions of Middleton’s videotaped deposition were shown at Collins’ hearing.

Collins was also convicted of the child sexual assault of another eight-year-old boy, in an entirely different case – but with eerily similar circumstances.

Now an adult, the victim testified during this week's hearing that Collins had threatened to burn him if he told anybody what happened.

Collins will remain in a Texas prison and is facing “up to 10 years in prison for a charge in neighboring San Jacinto County of failing to register as a sex offender.”

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