Eric Smith (murderer)

Eric M. Smith (born January 22, 1980) is an American murderer who, at the age of thirteen, tortured and murdered a four-year-old child, Derrick Joseph Robie (October 2, 1988 – August 2, 1993), in Steuben County, New York, on August 2, 1993. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers: nine years to life in prison.[2] Smith was granted parole in October 2021, after 27 years in prison. He was officially released in February 2022.

Eric Smith
Born (1980-01-22) January 22, 1980 (age 43)
Height5 ft 3 in (1.61 m)[1]
Criminal statusReleased on parole
Conviction(s)Second-degree murder
Criminal penaltyNine years to life in prison (paroled in 2022)
VictimsDerrick Joseph Robie, aged 4
DateAugust 2, 1993
Location(s)Savona, New York


On August 2, 1993, when Smith was thirteen years old, he was riding his bike to summer camp in a local park day camp. Four-year-old Derrick Robie was walking alone to that same camp. Smith saw Robie[3] and lured him into a nearby wooded area. There, Smith strangled him, dropped a large rock on his head, and raped him with a small stick. Smith took Kool-Aid from Robie's lunch box and poured it into Robie's open wounds. The cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma to the head with contributing asphyxia. At around 11:00 a.m., Robie's mother, Doreen, went to the park to pick up her son, only to find that Robie had never arrived. After four hours of investigation, Robie's body was found.[3]

The murder case made national headlines, largely due to the age of the killer (13) and of the victim (4).[4] On August 8, 1993, Smith confessed to his mother that he killed Derrick. The Smith family informed law enforcement later that night.

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.[4] 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.

A defense psychiatrist testified to diagnosing Smith with intermittent explosive disorder, a mental condition that causes violent and unpredictable behavior. However, the prosecution's expert said the disorder was rarely seen at Smith's age.[4]

Conviction and incarcerationEdit

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.[2][3] While in jail, Smith read out an apology letter to Robie's family 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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[6] As of May 3, 2016, the NYS Department of Corrections website showed him incarcerated at Collins Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for male inmates in Erie County, New York.[7] 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.[8]

Smith was denied parole ten times from 2002 to January 2020.[9] After the 2012 hearing, the parole board cited a concern for public safety in its decision, in addition to the opposition of Robie's parents to his release.[10] At that hearing, he told a parole board he would not return to Savona if released, and would go to a shelter or halfway house instead.[11][12]

In October 2021, Smith was granted parole after 27 years of incarceration.[13] He was scheduled to be released on November 17, 2021, but this was delayed due to Smith not having an approved residence.[14] He was ultimately released from prison on February 1, 2022.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^[bare URL image file]
  2. ^ a b "Family of slain 4-year-old sees murderer sentenced". News-Press. November 8, 1994. p. 4. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Too Young To Kill – 15 Shocking Crimes Part 14". Archived from the original on December 13, 2021 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ a b c Leung, Rebecca (February 11, 2009). "Why Did Eric Kill?". CBS News.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b Andriatch, Bruce (April 17, 2012). "19 years later, kid who killed faces us again". Buffalo News. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  6. ^ Zick, John (April 9, 2010). "Eric Smith denied parole again". The Corning Leader. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010.
  7. ^ "Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Documents". Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  8. ^ "NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision". Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  9. ^ "Eric Smith, man convicted of murder when he was 13, denied parole again". January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "Parole Board Releases Eric Smith Transcripts". May 30, 2012. Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  12. ^ "Smith: I wouldn't return to Savona". Steuben Courier. June 4, 2012. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  13. ^ "Eric Smith granted parole after 27 years in prison for killing child". WHAM. October 15, 2021.
  14. ^ "Release delayed for Steuben County child killer Eric Smith". WHEC News 10 NBC. November 16, 2021. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  15. ^ Aldinger, Carl (February 1, 2022). "Eric Smith released from prison after 27 years: DOCCS". Rochester First. Retrieved February 1, 2022.

External linksEdit