Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rob Freyer: A Prosecutors' Courage

Frequently, law enforcement and private citizens find themselves at odds with prosecutors who refuse to take a case to trial for a variety of reasons.  

An "assistant district attorney" is an important sounding name and it is an important role in society.  A lawyer passes the bar examination after the grueling ordeal of law school and now, young and inexperienced, takes a state job.  It is not glamorous, nor does it pay like the private sector.  There are, at times, an overload of small cases that require adjudication and not enough ADAs to complete the work.  

It is often thankless work, as well.  The prosecutors' office hires young lawyers out of school and thus begins the process of learning.  

He then is given cases in which he must decide to:

a.  take to trial
b.  seek a plea bargain
c.  refuse to prosecute

This young attorney begins his career with a record of 0-0, that is, no wins, no losses.  For some, plea bargains are counted as wins, while some observers would prefer to count them as draws.  

If the young prosecutor begins to amass a strong record, in just a few years, he will be offered a position in the private sector where his salary will double, triple, or more, quite quickly. 

 The money to be made in the private sector drains off the talent from the district attorney's office.  Sometimes those "left behind" lack talent, or courage, yet other times, they willingly stay behind as a strong commitment to justice drives them.  

For all district attorneys (assistant, and for assistant attorney generals) there is an element of self interest.  

No one likes to lose. 

Some prosecutors will buckle at the knees when a story hits the media because they know it will draw in high priced, powerful and influential attorneys who will take the case "pro bono", that is, for "free", and seek to profit off the publicity. 

This will drive investigators into depression.  They have worked long and hard on a case, and want to see the fruit of their labors, only to have prosecutors tell them, "we need more evidence", causing them to suspect that the prosecutors involved, fear a private attorney.  It may be true, or it may be that the prosecutors do not feel they can "win" the case due to the need for more evidence. 

This appeared to be the case of Baby Lisa.  

Deborah Bradley tripped, stumbled and fell over her own story of 'kidnapping' and had obviously caused her daughter's death and was lying about what happened.  The case appeared close to arrest when New York famed attorney, Joe Tacopina, arrived, "pro bono", and 'shut the case down.'

Tacopina, recently, showed his dissatisfaction with the end of publicity when he either deceived Fox News, or they collaborated with him, to create a false "buzz" and have a program now dedicated to "showing" that Deborah Bradley was truthful about the kidnapping.  She was not. 

They brought on a hireling who was billed as the "nation's top lie detector" who's own language showed:  he did not believe what he, himself, was asserting.  That is, "deception indicated" in the analysis. Philip Houston embarrassed himself on national news, but he did get the one hour program, which then can be used to advertise his services.  

Yet, the team got more national exposure and Fox News appeared foolish.  

Baby Lisa remains unburied and Deborah Bradley remains free. 

In the case of Hailey Dunn, 13 year old murder victim,  a local connected 'hot shot' attorney, replete with his own record of death, drugs and weapons, made a lot of noise and in spite of an abundance of child pornography and bestiality, which would have served some justice for Hailey, seemed to shut the case down.  Originally, investigators were told, "we need the body" but once that was found (it was only a matter of time), still no arrests of Shawn Adkins and Hailey's mother, Billie Jean Dunn. 

We still do not know why no arrests have been effected.  

These things frustrate the public, but more so the investigators who work long hours, sometimes well beyond the pay limit with no overtime remuneration, to solve the case, do so, only to find that their work is packaged in folders, and put on a shelf in a closet.  No where was the frustration more explosive than when Alex Hunter, elected DA, refused to follow the ruling of the Grand Jury, and sign the child abuse death indictment against John and Patsy Ramsey.  He would have faced a team of attorneys from Atlanta that he was in awe of.  Law Enforcement Careers ended because of his cowardice and his collusion with the defense attorneys.  

There is one man who should be honored today, however, in the role of prosecutor, for having the courage to go forward in a sickening case. 

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney, Rob Freyer. 

"When you do something like this in Montgomery County, Texas, and we can prove it, there will be consequences for your actions,"  Rob Freyer said.

What did someone do?

A 13 year old teenager kidnapped an 8 year old boy, tied him to a tree, doused him in gasoline, and set him on fire. 

The little boy, Robert Middleton,  survived the attack and identified his attacker as 13 year old Don Collins. 

Prosecutors declined to charge Collins on what they said was "a lack of evidence."  We later learn that other kids, upon maturing, came forward to report what Collins had done to them, as well.  

The story does not end there.  For the next 13 years, the little boy, who had burns over 99% of his body, and was severely disfigured, underwent more than 150 surgeries.  He finally died from skin cancer, as a result of the burning, in 2011.  
But on this deathbed, the courageous young man finally gave a motive as to why Collins had done this horrific thing to him:  Collins had raped him several times and feared that the little boy was going to tell, so to silence him, he attempted to kill him, via painful fire, instead, sentencing him to death, over a period of 13 excruciating years, until finally he could fight no more. 

Listen to this quote from one prosecutor:  "It makes me sick to look at him.  Collins is a sick, disgusting, vile human being."
Note the need to include that a human is a "human being", which, in Statement Analysis, is "unnecessary information" which is then deemed "doubly important" in analysis. 

Sheriff's investigators arrested Collins for the crime in 1998, and he spent six months in the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center. Prosecutors suspended proceedings while Middleton recovered, then dropped charges in 2000. The case languished until the Middletons won their civil suit against him, which culminated in a symbolic $150 billion verdict that brought new evidence to light.
Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright brought new charges against Collins and sought a ruling from District Judge Kathleen Hamilton that he be tried as an adult. In 1998, juveniles 14 and older could be tried as adults. A change in state law lowered the age to 10, though prosecutors agreed that the maximum penalty would reflect his juvenile status at the time of the crime.
Prosecutors argued that Collins, now 29, burned Middleton to prevent him from telling anyone that Collins had sexually assaulted him two weeks earlier. Robbie did not disclose the previous assault to parents or law enforcement until giving a deposition shortly before his death.  This is the silent "shame" that victims so often carry, which poisons their bodies and their minds.  Robbie also said Collins had repeatedly assaulted a cousin, too. 

Prosectors had to deal with frustrating "technicalities" such as the tossing out of statements made by the killer in which the room the statements were made, was not yet "approved" by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department Board.  It was approved after.  This in spite of the judge ruling that investigators did not violate Collins' rights in the interview.  There was much to overcome.  

During the trial Freyer said, 

"Let's face it, in the years I've been doing this, I've seen pretty much everything. These officers have seen just about everything, but obviously, it's very very tough to look at somebody who was so badly burned,” 
Take a look at Robbie's photos, before and after the assault.  It is sickening.  
Here we have a prosecutor's office where justice and courage trump self interest. 
Montgomery County Chief Prosecutor Rob Freyer followed Bond with an impassioned plea to jurors that they convict Collins.
Later, Freyer walked over to the defense table and glared at Collins, prompting Bond to jump out of his seat and ask Hamilton to order Freyer away from his client. When the judge declined, Freyer walked behind the defense table and stood inches away from Collins, who turned in his chair to face Freyer and looked up at him.
Bond again objected and the judge ordered Freyer to remain in front of the table.
"Today that little boy gets to hit back," Freyer said, referring to Middleton. Pointing at Collins, he said, "Today is the day that you pay."
It is difficult to reman seated reading these quotes while I want to stand and cheer.  

Three cheers for Rob Freyer and his team.  

We often see lawyers at the wrong end of jokes, and just as often, with deceptive quotes.  The attorneys I have been privileged to train in Statement Analysis have been those of honor and respect.  Though most trainees are in law enforcement, business, social services, etc, attorneys who receive this training can, just like anyone else, get to the truth of the matter.  One client uses the analysis to strategize for court, as analysis points the laser of questioning in the most sensitive of areas. These are dedicated professionals who want the truth and get it. 

Rob Freyer, no doubt, had a lengthy battle on his hands.  Not only had he prove his case (the Jury took four hours to find Collins guilty) but he had to overcome the defense, technicalities, and, as you read the description of him in court:  his own righteous indignation.  

The bully did not get away with it; thanks to Rob Freyer.  

Join me in congratulating Rob Freyer and the courageous team from Montgomery County, Texas, in seeking and finding justice for a little boy who cannot speak for himself.  


GeekRad said...

I agree! Three cheers. If only we could see more dedication to justice and not personal careers.

Jen Ow said...

Thank you Mr. Freyer, for your dedication, and commitment to justice for this young victim!

I hope that your hard fought victory has given Robert Middleton's family some measure of justice.

dadgum said...

I have seen the refusal to take to trial once too often. It is painful for victims, and giver the perpetrator the feeling the acts can be repeated without consequence. If victims have been told that they won't be believed, they think it is so.

Bonnie Blue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bonnie Blue said...

Thank you Mr. Freyer and his team for this victory!
I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I read this. I am so glad you did not give up. I wonder how many more victims there are out there. I hope he got received a sentence that was equal to his crimes.

Anonymous said...

What on earth was done to Collins to turn him into a rapist at age 13?
What about his parents? Did anyone pursue that?

As far as Baby Lisa, did you notice that no local media followed up with them after their national Fox News? Bradley said in the interview that there was a planned meeting with local police after the beginning of the year. What was the meeting about?

That team always seems to release information when it's convenient. Remember they also teased up "astounding" info about the stolen debit cards that turned out to be nothing but someone supposedly using them on a non-existent website where you supposedly change birth names or something.

Bonnie Blue said...

Anon 4:26pm:

the only thing I found on Collins was that he went to live with a family (after this poor boy was burned) who intended to adopt him ... until he raped his soon-to-be adopted brother.

I wonder where his parents were or if he was a foster child?

There is no way these are the only 2 crimes he committed considering how sadistic this crime was. He roamed about for years after this ...

tania cadogan said...

A convicted child rapist has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for a childhood arson attack on a boy who died as a result nearly 13 years later.

Don Collins, 29, was sentenced on Tuesday for pouring gasoline on Robert Middleton and setting him on fire on Middleton's eighth birthday in 1998 in Splendora, Texas.

Prosecutors said Collins burned Robbie to silence him after he raped him several weeks earlier.

Middleton endured years of physical therapy before he died in 2011 from skin cancer blamed on his burns.

The 29-year-old Collins was convicted of capital murder. His punishment was capped at 40 years because he was 13 at the time of the attack.

Don Collins showed no reaction as the verdict was read out, KHOU reported.

During his trial, he had paid little attention to proceedings and had read the newspaper at times.

At one point, he was overheard discussing his jail term with his lawyer and saying: 'The bright side of this is I'll come out with an education.'

Prosecution and defense teams presented arguments on Tuesday before the jury started deliberating.

The jury had heard from witnesses including one man who said Collins raped him and a woman who said the murderer stomped her kitten to death.

Robbie Middleton's mother, Colleen, told the court: 'Everybody was afraid of him. He was the big bully that stomped kittens to death.'

Another witness said that Collins should never be allowed out of jail because he would harm another child

Last week, the jury watched a heartbreaking, deathbed video of Robbie, who suffered 99 per cent burns, where he named the teenager who raped him then tied him up and set him alight in an attempt to cover up his crime.

Robbie Middleton's frail voice named suspect Donald Collins as his rapist and torturer, just shortly before he passed away, aged 21, in 2011.
Robbie succumbed to cancer, believed to have been caused by the horrific burn injuries he suffered 13 years before. A medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

In 1998, Robbie was tied to a tree and set alight on his 8th birthday in woodland behind his home in Splendora, Texas.

At trial last Thursday, the jury was shown a 30-minute video of Robbie just 17 days before he died.

According to the Houston Chronicle, on the tape Robbie said: 'Don grabbed me, turned me around and threw gas in my face.'

He said that he was blinded by the gasoline but when he realized he was on fire, he started to run from the woodland trail back home.

He added: 'I was running as fast as I could but I couldn't see where I was running to', recalling that he was screaming and in horrific pain.

The 21-year-old Robbie was then asked by the interviewer, attorney Craig Sico, if he was sexually assaulted by Collins.

Robbie replied that two weeks before he was burned, Collins 'took me out into the woods where I was burned. He pulled my clothes down and started raping me'.

tania cadogan said...

The prosecution said Collins set Robbie on fire to prevent his crime being discovered.

Collins had pleaded not guilty.

During the trial, Collins' defense lawyer claimed that Robbie, who spent most of his life at Shriner's Children's Hospital in Galveston, named Collins along with many others soon after the attack.

Attorney E. Tay Bond said there was not enough evidence to convict Collins and accused the Middleton family's attorney of making up the rape theory.

The defense team added that there were no witnesses to the attack and claimed prosecutors were playing to the jury's emotions.

'Do not expect the defense to bring an eyewitness to this tragedy because there is not one,' Bond told jurors. There are no witnesses from the woods except for Robbie.'

Collins was convicted of raping another eight-year-old boy in 2001 at gunpoint. From the age of 16, he spent four years in a juvenile detention center for the crime.

The victim testified at a 2013 hearing to determine whether Collins should be tried as an adult for the crime against Robbie Middleton.

The victim said that Collins threatened to burn him if he told anyone about the assault.

A judge determined last March that Collins could be tried for murder as an adult, despite being a teenager at the time.

In 1998, Robbie had named Collins as his attacker and the 13-year-old was arrested.

Collins spent several months in juvenile detention but was released after prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence to pursue the case.

Robbie's mother Colleen Middleton choked back tears as she testified last week at the Houston court about how Collins had 'stalked' her son in the days before the attack.

She testified that Robbie told her Don Collins, 13, had tied him up and set him on fire.

Mrs Middleton, who found her badly-burned son collapsed by her home, said that in the months after the attack he was so delirious with pain that he named everyone he knew as his attacker - including the family dog.

However, after almost a year, and when he began to regain lucidity, he named Don Collins as his attacker - and never wavered.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2948174/Pedophile-sentenced-40-years-murder-eight-year-old-boy-raped-set-fire.html

GetThem said...

Yipes, I got deleted... what'd I do??

Lemon said...

Well done, Mr. Freyer.
Well done.

Sara said...

This is one of the most sickening cases I have ever heard about. The prosecutor who dropped the charges initially ought to be ashamed. Here JD Albright succeeded even without a living victim! And whoever that original prosecutor was couldn't secure a verdict even with the poor victim to testify in person. I wonder who the original prosecutor was. That person added so much pain to the victim and his family, as well as the future victims lives.
I know the pain of injustice and can really relate to the victims and their families.
JD Albright seems to acknowledge his offices failure to prosecute earlier in his statement when he added "and we can prove it." I bet he really wanted to bash the earlier prosecutor but couldn't due to the ethical constraints of his profession. RIP dear Robbie.

Anonymous said...

Bonnie Blue

Thanks for the additional info. It sounds like from that and the info Tania posted that he was a sociopath. This is the type of story that shatters the ability to trust anyone.

Anonymous said...

The prosecutor did not want to open up Pandora's Box.
Where were the bullies parents?
What about the victims parents? Why were they not able to protect their son?
Where was the "village" in the rearing of the bully?
This is Texas! If that REALLY happened, he would have been shot!
Oh, well. Just turn the other cheek.

S + K Mum said...

Well done Rob Freyer! For having the courage and determination to fight for justice for Robert Middleton. Now he is sentenced properly he cannot do anything like this to anyone else.
The horror Robert endured, before being burned, during and after really is horrendous. A brave boy who deserved justice.

Peter Hyatt said...

well said, SK Mom!