‘Freckle-Faced’ Killer Who Was 13 When He Murdered 4-Year-Old Boy in 1993 Granted Parole
“When I had seen him, the first thought I had was I want to hurt him,” Eric M. Smith recently said of his victim, Derrick Robie.
A man who was 13 when he killed a 4-year-old boy he didn’t know was recently freed after serving 28 years behind bars for the brutal slaying.
Eric M. Smith, now 42, was granted parole last fall and released on Feb. 1 from the medium-security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County, New York.
In August 1993, Smith lured Derrick Robie into the woods in Savona, western New York.
“When I had seen him, the first thought I had was I want to hurt him,” recalled Smith of spotting the victim walking alone to summer camp and asking if he wanted to be shown a shortcut.
Smith strangled Robie until the little boy lost consciousness. He then repeatedly punched him and fatally smashed him in the head with a rock.
The teenager confessed he was responsible for the slaying a week later, and he received a sentence of nine years to life behind bars after he was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994.
Over the years, the victim’s parents, Dale and Doreen Robie, opposed Smith’s release each of the previous 10 times he was up for parole, beginning in 2002.
At his successful eleventh parole hearing last October, Smith claimed that at the time of the murder he was angry about other children bullying him because he was short, had red hair, and wore glasses.
“After years of reflection, looking at who I was then and what was going on, I essentially became the bully that I disliked in everything else in my life,” he said, according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by the Associated Press.
After their decision to release Smith, the parole board told the convicted killer the ruling “should in no way be construed as excusing your heinous behavior or mitigating the terrible loss of life you caused.”
In an interview with 48 Hours, Doreen Robie said she would never wish the loss of a child on anyone. “We never forget our boy … because he was, you know, a wonderful child,” she said, adding, “And we miss him terribly.”