CONROE, Texas, March 6 (UPI) -- A Texas judge ruled Thursday that a man can be tried as an adult for a crime he committed as a teen, 15 years ago.
Donald Collins, now 28, was a teenager when he allegedly doused his neighbor, 8-year-old Robbie Middleton, with gasoline, then tied him to a tree and set him on fire. Middleton survived, severely disfigured, but died in 2011 from cancer doctors determined was caused by his burns.
Middleton's death was ruled a homicide, and before he died, he implicated Collins in a 27-minute taped statement, accusing Collins of sexually assaulting him in the weeks before he was burned.
Collins was just 13 at the time of the alleged crimes, and Texas law mandated juveniles be at least 14 to be certified as adults.
"This is really the first case like it in Texas," said lead prosecutor Marc Brumberger. "And I didn't see any others like it in the country."
Collins was convicted in 2001 of assaulting another 8-year-old boy. Middleton's parents won a $150 billion civil settlement against Collins in 2011.