Texas man convicted of capital murder in childhood burning of boy who died 13 years later

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GALVESTON, Texas — A jury in Galveston has convicted a Texas man of capital murder for a childhood attack on a boy who died nearly 13 years later.

Prosecutors say when Don Collins was 13 years old he poured gasoline on Robert Middleton and set him on fire during Middleton's eighth birthday in 1998 near Splendora, about 35 miles northeast of Houston.

Middleton endured years of physical therapy before he died in 2011, shortly before his 21st birthday, from skin cancer blamed on his horrific burns.

During closing arguments Monday, prosecutors told jurors Collins has burned Middleton to silence him for sexually assaulting him before the attack.

Defense attorneys argued there were no eyewitnesses and no physical evidence linking the 29-year-old Collins to the crime.

The trial's punishment phase begins Tuesday.

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