Published On: Fri, Mar 7th, 2014

Don Collins will be tried for 1998 murder and sexual assault of Robert Middleton, who he set on fire

Robert Middleton passed away, leaving a videotaped deposition which has led officials to new evidence and a renewed effort to punish don Wilburn Collins.

Family photo of Robert Middleton after the attack

Family photo of Robert Middleton after the attack

Collins was 13 in 1998 when he horribly burned then 8-year-old Robert on his birthday. Middleton’s body was 99% burned and endured years of physical therapy, but died in 2011 from skin cancer attributed to the attack.

In this video, Middleton names Collins as the attacker, who was released from juvenile detention after a couple of months in 1998 due to lack of evidence. Middleton added more details, accusing “Collins for the first time of sexually assaulting him two weeks before the attack. The sexual assault allegation prompted investigators to reopen the case. 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.”

They did just that this week as state District Judge Kathleen Hamilton ruled that Collins could be tried for murder by an adult court.

“Because the state did not have probable cause to proceed in juvenile court and new evidence has been found since the 18th birthday of (Collins), I have further determined there is probable cause to believe that (Collins) committed the offense alleged,” Hamilton said.

Several witnesses testified at the hearing that Collins had confessed to them or others that he was responsible for the attack on Middleton. Part of Middleton’s taped deposition also was shown.

Collins was convicted in a separate case of sexually assaulting another 8-year-old boy.

Collins’ attorney, E. Tay Bond, questioned the reliability of Middleton’s statements, as well as secondhand statements from other witnesses.

“There is no physical evidence that links Don Collins to this case,” Bond said. “There are no eyewitnesses.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.


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