Eric Smith (murderer)
Eric M. Smith
|Born||January 22, 1980|
Steuben County, New York, U.S.
|Motive||Bullying, childhood abuse|
|Criminal penalty||Nine years to life in prison|
Eric M. Smith (born January 22, 1980) is an American criminal who is incarcerated for the murder of four-year-old Derrick Robie (born October 2, 1988) on August 2, 1993 in Steuben County, New York. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers: a minimum of nine years to life in prison.
Smith enjoyed spending time with his grandparents, Red and Edie Wilson; Red said "He would always come in and give us hugs and kisses. He liked being a clown." However, Eric Smith had been diagnosed by a defense psychiatrist with intermittent explosive disorder, a mental disorder causing individuals to be violent and unpredictable, but the prosecution's expert said it was a rare disorder that was rarely seen at Smith's age. Smith was subjected to extensive medical testing from specialists on both sides. They examined brain function, hormone levels and found nothing to explain his violent behavior. According to court documents, Smith was a loner who was often tormented by bullies for his protruding low-set ears, thick glasses, red hair and freckles. It later emerged that during her pregnancy, Smith's mother took an epilepsy drug, Tridione, which is known to cause birth defects. It has been speculated that this contributed to Smith’s later violent behavior, as he was often bullied for the size of his ears, and led to what Smith himself described as pent-up rage, which he would later take out on Derrick Robie.
On August 2, 1993, when Smith was thirteen years old, he was riding his bike to a summer day camp in a local park and 4-year-old Derrick Robie was walking alone to that same camp. Smith saw Robie and lured him into a nearby wooded area. There, Smith strangled him, dropped a large rock on the boy's head, undressed his body, and sodomized him with a tree limb. The cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma to the head with contributing asphyxia. Around 11:00 a.m., Robie's mother, Doreen, went to the park to pick up her son, only to find that Robie had not arrived. After four hours of investigation, Robie's body was found. The murder case made national headlines, largely due to the age of the killer (13) and of the victim (4). On August 8, 1993, Eric Smith confessed to his mother that he murdered Derrick. The Smith family informed law enforcement later that night. In his 2014 parole hearing, Smith said that he had been bullied by older children at school, and also by his father and older sister. He confessed that he took his rage out on Robie, so he killed him. Smith said that he sodomized Robie with a stick in order to ensure his death.
Conviction and incarceration
On August 16, 1994, Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers: a minimum of nine years to life in prison. While in jail, Smith wrote an apology letter to Robie's family; he read it on public television: "I know my actions have caused a terrible loss in the Robie family, and for that, I am truly sorry. I've tried to think as much as possible about what Derrick will never experience: his 16th birthday, Christmas, anytime, owning his own house, graduating, going to college, getting married, his first child. If I could go back in time, I would switch places with Derrick and endure all the pain I've caused him. If it meant that he would go on living, I'd switch places, but I can't." At the end of this statement, Smith states that he cannot bear the thought of "walls, razor wire, and steel metal bars" for the rest of his life. He has also apologized to Derrick Robie in interviews.
Smith has been denied parole ten times since 2002, most recently in January 2020. He will next be eligible for parole in October 2021. After the failed 2012 hearing, the parole board cited a concern for public safety in its decision, and Robie's parents opposed his release. At that hearing, he told a parole board he would not return to Savona if released, and instead would go to a shelter or halfway house.
Smith was held in a juvenile facility for three years and was then transferred to an open prison for young adults. In 2001, he was transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, a maximum security prison. As of May 3, 2016, the NYS Department of Corrections website shows him incarcerated at Collins Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for male inmates in Erie County, New York. On April 26, 2019, he was listed as incarcerated at Gowanda Correctional Facility, a medium security prison which is co-located with Collins Correctional Facility. On November 30, 2019, he was listed as incarcerated at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County.
- Murder of James Bulger
- Mary Bell
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- Melinda Loveless
- Josh Phillips (murderer)
- Parker-Hulme murder case
- "Family of slain 4-year-old sees murderer sentenced". News-Press. November 8, 1994. p. 4. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Leung, Rebecca (February 11, 2009). "Why Did Eric Kill?". CBS News.
- "Why Did Eric Kill?". www.cbsnews.com.
- "Too Young To Kill - 15 Shocking Crimes".
- Freile, Victoria E. (April 17, 2014). "Child killer Eric Smith calls his crime 'horrendous,' 'violent'". Democrat & Chronicle.
- Andriatch, Bruce (April 17, 2012). "19 years later, kid who killed faces us again". Buffalo News. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "Eric Smith, man convicted of murder when he was 13, denied parole again". 13WHAM.com. January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
- "Family of victim relieved Eric Smith denied parole". WHAM 13. May 16, 2012. Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "Parole Board Releases Eric Smith Transcripts". 13WHAM.com. May 30, 2012. Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "Smith: I wouldn't return to Savona". Steuben Courier. June 4, 2012. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- Zick, John (April 9, 2010). "Eric Smith denied parole again". The Corning Leader. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010.
- "Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Documents". Retrieved October 23, 2012.
- "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision". nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
- What Childhood is Meant to Be from The Malefactor's Register
- Zick, John (June 2, 2008). "Child killer Smith up for parole". The Corning Leader. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009.
- Zick, John (June 13, 2008). "Eric Smith denied parole again". The Corning Leader. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
- Eric Smith parole interview, April 9, 2014