Years after he was set on fire by an attacker, a boy received justice as a result of a deposition that he gave while he was on his deathbed. His attacker was sentenced to jail, and the family of the victim earned $150 billion in a civil case, which was the largest sum in the history of the United States.
On his eighth birthday in 1998, a boy tied Robbie to a tree, poured gasoline on him, and set him on fire in the woods. Despite the flames that ate away at his body, the young boy stumbled home, collapsing on the street in a ball of fire. His mother found him close to death, with severe blisters covering his whole body and skin hanging off his ankles. The burns covered 99 percent of his body and left him without eyelids. Only the soles of his feet were unharmed.
While hospital staff told the family that Robbie wouldn’t survive, he got stronger after countless skin grafts and more than 150 operations. The boy was severely traumatized and disfigured, but he quickly became known for his relentless optimism. He named his attacker as then-13-year-old Don, but the court was unable to find a motive and acquitted the boy. At age 20, Robbie’s third-degree burns turned into deadly skin cancer. Dying in a hospital bed, Middleton sought justice and recorded a deposition, yet again naming Don as his attacker.
In this video, however, Robbie also made clear Don’s motive: to keep him silent. According to Robbie, just 17 days before he was lit on fire, Don ra-ed him. “Don grabbed me by my shoulder and threw gas in my face, after that I don’t really remember anything,” Robbie said. Robbie died in April 2011. Investigators ruled his death a homicide, since he died from the burns. His family was then awarded $150 billion in damages. His family took his case to court. Ultimately, the jury sentenced the 29-year-old Don to 40 years. Since 1998 law did not allow 13-year-olds to be prosecuted as adults, he received the maximum sentence for his age at the time, and Robbie’s finally received justice.
We are republishing this story in light of recent reports that show child abuse has significantly increased during the pandemic. See the video.