In 1998, two weeks before Robbie Middleton turned 8, he was allegedly raped by 13-year-old Don Collins. Then, on his birthday, Collins reportedly tied Middleton to a tree, threw a cup of gasoline in his face, and lit the boy on fire in a forest near the boys' Splendora, Texas home. Middleton's eyelids were burned off and it took over 200 surgeries to try and repair the damage.
In 2011, at the age of 20, Middleton passed away due to a cancer that doctors think resulted from the multiple skin grafts. On his deathbed, Middleton made a video that revealed, for the first time, the rape incident, and named Collins as his abuser.
Now, the Middleton family has filed felony murder charges against 27-year-old Collins.
Collins, in fact, was just released from prison where he was serving time for an unrelated child abuse conviction. Even though the Middletons were awarded $150 billion in a civil case back in December of 2011 (the money was just to set an example, they're not likely to see a dime), the Middleton family now wants Collins to pay for his crime in a criminal court case. Robbie's death, after all, was ruled a homicide.
In most cases like this, it's easy to hope that the criminal is punished to the fullest extent, it's easy to wish that whoever raped an 8-year-old boy, then tied him to a tree and lit him on fire would rot in hell. But there's something about this case that makes it hard for me to get angry at Collins.
He was 13 when he allegedly committed the crime. He was a boy, too. What happened in his childhood that made him capable of such a crime? What did he endure at home that even gave him the idea to rape a boy then set him on fire? It's a possibility that Collins was a child psychopath, but what if his behavior wasn't inherent, but was learned?
Regardless, it doesn't, nor should it, absolve Collins of his reported crimes. He's still gotta pay for what he did. But if Collins was part of some twisted cycle, it would be good to hear that whoever turned him into that monster would have to pay for their crimes, as well.
What do you think?
Photo via thenetfrancesco/YouTube