Man who killed 4-year-old when he was 13 freed from prison

Posted at 6:25 PM, February 1, 2022 and last updated 8:51 PM, July 18, 2023

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man who killed a 4-year-old boy with a rock in 1993 when he was 13 years old has been released from prison after being granted parole last October, authorities said Tuesday.

Eric M. Smith, 42, was released from the Woodbourne Correctional Facility on Tuesday after serving 28 years for the murder of Derrick Robie, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s website.

Authorities said Smith lured the younger boy into a wooded area near the victim’s home in Savona in western New York and beat him to death with a rock.

Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to nine years to life in prison. The case attracted wide attention because the defendant and victim were so young. Smith was granted parole last fall after 10 previous requests were denied.

At his Oct. 5 parole hearing, Smith blamed the attack on pent-up anger from being bullied by other children who targeted him for being short with red hair and 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,” Smith said, according to a transcript of the hearing.

Derrick’s parents, Dale and Doreen Robie, opposed Smith’s release each time it was previously considered. A phone number listed for Dale Robie was not in service Tuesday.

Smith told parole officials he hoped to live with his mother initially and then move in with his fiancee. Neither his mother’s address nor his fiancee’s identity was disclosed.