The then-8-year-old boy, Robbie, received justice years after the attacker set him on fire thanks to the last words he gave on his deathbed, prosecutors said. According to the court documents, the boy’s attacker was imprisoned and his family received $150 billion in a civil lawsuit. On the day when Robbie celebrated his 8th birthday, he walked through the woods behind his home to meet a friend for a sleepover. Shortly afterward, the boy emerged from the trees in flames. Another boy reportedly tied him 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 unfortunate child managed to go home, collapsing on the street in a ball of burnt flesh.
Robbie’s mom 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. Hospital staff told the family that Robbie wouldn’t survive. However, he underwent countless skin grafts and more than 150 operations, and eventually, he got stronger. Although he was severely traumatized and disfigured, Robbie quickly became known for his relentless optimism. “The past is the past,” he would say. “You need to let it go.”
Robbie named his attacker as then 13-year-old Don, who was taken into juvenile custody. Unfortunately, Don was released because there was no motive or evidence. The only witness was an 8-year-old boy. It was a miscarriage of justice, but a big break in the case would come many years later. At age 20, Robbie’s third-degree burns turned into deadly skin cancer. Dying in a hospital bed, Robbie 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 had ra-ed him in the very same woods. Just before dying, Robbie told investigators, “Don grabbed me by my shoulder and threw gas in my face, after that I don’t really remember anything.”
Authorities went on to rule his death a homicide because the cancer was a consequence of his original injuries. The family took Robbie’s case to court, attempting once again to get justice for him. Don was tried as an adult despite being 13 at the time of the crime. Defense attorney Tay put Don on the stand just prior to closing arguments. Once sworn in, Don told the court that he was pleading the 5th Amendment and wished to remain silent. County Chief Prosecutor Freyer made an impassioned plea to jurors that they convict Don. “Today that little boy gets to hit back,” Freyer said, referring to Robbie. Pointing at Don, he said, “Today is the day that you pay.” The jury sentenced him, who was 29-years-old at the time, to 40 years behind bars. Robbie’s parents also pursued a civil lawsuit against Don . Although $150 billion is the largest sum of its kind ever awarded in U.S. history, the family members are unlikely to ever see that money. Dear readers, we are republishing this story amid recent reports that child se-ual abuse has surged in the U.S. during the pandemic.