Eric Smith: Man who was 13 when he butchered 4-yr-old Derrick Robie paroled after 27 yrs
ALBANY, NEW YORK: Eric M Smith was 13 when he killed four-year-old Derrick Robie with a rock in the Steuben County Village of Savona in 1993. Smith was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder following a trial in Steuben County Court. Now, 27 years later, he’s been granted parole.
In 1993, Smith reportedly lured Robie into a wooded area near the boy's Savona home. Smith strangled Robie, smashed his head with a rock, and sexually abused him. Smith was reportedly taken into custody about a week later, and the case received national attention due to the nature of the crime and the ages of both Smith and Robie. A photo of a then-adolescent Smith in court, wearing a Bugs Bunny sweatshirt and a mop of red hair was widely circulated. Reportedly, at his trial, Smith’s lawyer tried to persuade a jury that Smith suffered from a mental disorder.
Smith, now 41, appeared for the eleventh time before the Board of Parole on October 5 and was granted release as early as November 17, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said. Robie’s parents — Dale and Doreen Robie — opposed Smith’s release each time. As per the Associated Press, it was previously considered that they have lobbied for parole reforms that include extending the time between hearings for violent offenders from the current two years to five. Smith is housed at the medium-security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in the Catskills.
Smith reportedly admitted in his 2014 parole hearing that he killed Robie because he thought the boy would get up and report what happened. As per the Daily Mail, In 2014, Smith said, “he didn't deserve anything that I did to him; no one deserved that kind of violence. What I did to him was brutal.” He further said that his anger wasn't directed at Derrick, but rather his own family and the students at school who bullied him and called his act “horrendous” and “violent.” He said, “I took my anger and frustration and rage out on him.”
Dale Robie told local media the family did not want to comment on the latest decision. In April 2015, Smith was denied parole for the seventh time, with the parole board calling the crime “serious and brutal.” The same year, Dale Robie said that while the parole denial provided temporary relief for them, in another two years, they would have to relive the tragedy. Usually, around Christmas time, he said, the couple would receive a letter from the parole board saying that Smith was going to be eligible for parole, typically around May or June.
“And we start reliving,” Dale Robie said at the time. “What can we say? What can we do? Why do we have to do it? Every two years we are reliving what happened to Derrick and what he did to Derrick. And the community relives it too. It wears on you after a while… I feel like I shouldn’t have to be up here speaking for Derrick. I feel like (Smith’s) actions alone should keep him behind bars. But that is the law.”
Dorie Robie said in 2015 that she was merely looking for some peace for her family. "Everything that I've squelched and healed over for a year and a half is gone," she said. "So this really is not fair to these families."