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GRAPHIC WARNING: TX man on trial after sexually assaulting, burning boy

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POSTED: Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 1:53pm

UPDATED: Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 2:26pm

We want to warn you that some of the video in this story you may find disturbing.

A Montgomery County judge ruled that a 28-year-old man can be tried for a crime he was accused of committing when he was a teenager.

Investigators say Don Willburn Collins was 13-years-old when he attacked 8-year-old Robert Middleton, doused him with gasoline, and then set him on fire.

"I do see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Colleen Middleton, Robert's mother. "Hopefully one of these days it will end."

For more than a decade, Robert Ray Middleton endured hundreds of surgeries and countless hours of pain from the catastrophic burns he suffered over 99 percent of his body.

Before he died in 2011, Middleton was finally able to give detectives a video taped deposition.

He formally accused Don Willburn Collins of sexually assaulting him and then setting him on fire.

"I find this child's testimony during the video deposition to be credible and to be true," said Montgomery County Judge, Kathleen Hamilton.

"He did that deposition, he knew he was dying, and I am glad it wasn't for nothing," said Middleton.

During the 4 day hearing, several family members and friends testified they heard Collins admitting to setting Middleton on fire.

Collins himself declined to answer questions.

However, Middleton's mother, Colleen, hopes that since the case will now go to trial, Collins will at least provide some answers.

"I hope they put Mr. Collins on the stand. I want to hear what he has to say, I've been waiting all this time."

Prosecutors charged Collins with murder, arguing Middleton died from a specific type of cancer caused by his burns. 

Since Collins was 13 at the time Middleton was attacked, he had to be certified as an adult before he could go to trial.

Colleen Middleton says this a day she waited to see for more than 15 years.

"Robert died it was still like that. We were thinking well maybe nothing will ever happen," said Colleen Middleton.

Prosecutors expect to bring the case to trial this year.

Collins defense attorneys argue there is no evidence against their client other than hearsay.

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