Man indicted for murder in childhood crime in Montgomery County


by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News and The Associated Press

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 6:40 PM

HOUSTON (AP) - A grand jury has indicted a man on a capital murder charge for a childhood attack on a boy who died nearly 13 years later.

Authorities say Don Willburn Collins was 13 when he poured gasoline on Robert Middleton and set him on fire during Middleton’s eighth birthday in 1998.

Middleton survived but died in 2011 of skin cancer authorities blamed on his injuries.

The Montgomery County grand jury’s indictment Thursday came after a judge ruled in March that Collins’ case could be transferred from juvenile to adult court.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said he hopes to try the case by the end of the year.

An attorney for the 29-year-old Collins didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

Days before Robbie died he made a video deposition accusing Collins of sexually assaulting him two weeks before setting him on fire.

That dying declaration was a game changer. It sparked the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office to find another boy, sexually assaulted by Collins. That victim testified to help have Collins certified as an adult, so he could be tried in the Middleton case.

“Collins told him if you tell anybody what I did to you, I’m gonna burn you like I burned that other little boy, referring to Robert Middleton,” County Attorney J.D. Lambright said.

Collins went to prison for that crime. The Montgomery County Cold Case squad found more victims.

Lambright added, “We also had other witnesses that he had sexually assaulted as well.”