Eric Smith was 13 when he murdered a child. Now he’s back in the headlines.

Eric Smith, who spent 28 years behind bars for the 1993 homicide of 4-year-old Derrick Robie, was launched from jail in February. “48 Hours” takes a glance again on the infamous case:

Morning of August 2, 1993: A remaining kiss goodbye

Derrick Robie
Derrick Robie was 4 when he was murdered close to his residence in Savona, New York.

Robie household

“It’s OK, Mom. I’ll go by myself,” is what Doreen Robie stated her 4-year-old son, Derrick, advised her on the morning of August 2, 1993. Robie at all times watched Derrick make the brief journey to a recreation program at a park close to the household’s residence in Savona, New York. But that morning, she had her arms full with Derrick’s crying child brother and allowed Derrick to stroll alone with out her supervision. “He gave me a kiss and I said, ‘I love you.’ He says, ‘I love you, Mom,'” Robie recalled. 

August 2, 1993: A mom’s instinct results in a grim discovery

Derrick Robie crime scene
Searchers discovered Derrick’ Robie’s physique in a small patch of woods, just some yards from the park the place he was headed and some hundred yards from his personal entrance door.  He had been choked and crushed to loss of life with rocks.  

Steuben County District Attorney’s Office

Soon after Derrick Robie left residence, storm clouds moved in, and it started to rain. “I had an awful feeling,” Doreen Robie remembered earlier than racing to choose up Derrick on the park. She was advised that he by no means confirmed up. Nearly 5 hours later, searchers discovered Derrick’s physique in a small patch of woods close to the identical park. Evidence later confirmed that Derrick was lured to the woods earlier than being strangled and battered with rocks. A banana from Derrick’s lunch bag was discovered smashed close to his physique and his Kool-Aid was poured into his wounds.

The rapid assumption was that Derrick’s killer was an grownup from out of city. While anxious dad and mom in Savona stored their youngsters inside, police started trying to find potential suspects and data that might result in an arrest.

Days after the homicide: An area boy is interviewed by police

Eric Smith
Eric Smith

Family residence video

As the investigation continued, a neighborhood 13-year-old boy named Eric Smith was interviewed by police. Smith advised investigators he was driving his bike when he noticed Derrick throughout the road from him. This encounter was close to the patch of woods the place his physique was discovered and across the time of Derrick’s homicide. Smith would go on to precisely describe Derrick’s T-shirt and lunch bag. One investigator believed Smith may have witnessed one thing associated to the homicide.

August 6, 1993: A reenactment pokes holes in Eric Smith’s story

Police video tape of Eric Smith’s reenactment 


Investigators met Eric Smith on the location the place he had advised them he noticed Derrick Robie.  They videotaped him as he rode his bike and reenacted that second. They shortly realized Smith couldn’t have seen all that he described to them from the gap he claimed to be. Investigators and Smith’s household believed he knew greater than he was telling them.  

August 8, 1993: Eric Smith confesses to the Derrick Robie’s homicide

“I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry. I killed that little boy.”  Those are the phrases Eric Smith’s grandfather remembered his grandson saying after the household begged him to inform them what he noticed on the day of Derrick Robie’s homicide. Smith later confessed to regulation enforcement and supplied particulars on how he killed the 4-year-old.

August 9, 1993: Teen’s arrest for homicide turns into a nationwide media sensation

Eric Smith arrest
Eric Smith is escorted by police outdoors court docket in 1993


Authorities introduced Eric Smith had been arrested for the homicide of Derrick Robie. His arrest would change into a nationwide media sensation as folks turned perplexed by how such a younger and innocent-looking boy may commit such a heinous crime.

September 2, 1993: A grand jury indicts Eric Smith

A grand jury indicted 13-year-old Eric Smith on a second-degree homicide cost. Smith could be tried as an grownup.  

September 10, 1993: A not responsible plea

Eric Smith leaving plea hearing
Eric Smith after his plea listening to on September 10, 1993.

CBS News

Eric Smith pleads not responsible to the second-degree homicide cost.

August 1994: Eric Smith on trial

Eric Smith trial
Eric Smith throughout his trial in August 1994. 

CBS News

A 12 months after he murdered Derrick Robie, Eric Smith confronted a jury below the glare of nationwide information cameras. Smith’s protection legal professional argued that Smith “suffers from a mental disease that can be characterized as a rage disorder” and couldn’t be held criminally liable for the homicide. During the trial, testimonies revealed Smith had speech issues and a historical past of throwing mood tantrums as a toddler. The jury additionally realized Smith was relentlessly bullied and held again at school.

The prosecutor pushed again towards the madness protection, arguing that Smith knew what he was doing was incorrect and must be held absolutely liable for his actions below the regulation.

August 16, 1994: The jury reaches a verdict

Eric Smith on trial
Eric Smith listens because the jury reads his verdict on August 16, 1994. 

CBS News

After hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict late at evening. They discovered Eric Smith responsible of second-degree homicide for the slaying of Derrick Robie. They additionally accepted the prosecutor’s argument that Smith was not affected by any excessive psychological dysfunction that managed his actions on the time of the homicide.

November 7, 1993: Eric Smith sentenced

A choose gave Eric Smith the utmost sentence of 9 years to life. He would serve his time in a juvenile detention facility till he turned 21, when he could be transferred to an grownup jail.

June 11, 2002: Eric Smith has his first parole listening to

Eric Smith’s first probability of parole was denied. The parole board famous the 22-year-old appeared to have “little remorse” for murdering Derrick Robie. Every two years, Smith would once more be eligible for parole.

June 8, 2004: Parole denied for the second time

Eric Smith interview
In 2004, Eric Smith, 24, learn an announcement for “48 Hours.” “Hi, my name is Eric Smith. You first met me 11 years ago. … I know my actions have caused a terrible loss in the Robie family, and for that I am truly sorry …”

CBS News

The 24-year-old Eric Smith could be denied parole for the second time. That similar 12 months, Smith would learn an announcement in entrance of “48 Hours”‘ cameras whereas in jail. During his assertion, Smith apologized and acknowledged that his “actions caused a terrible loss in the Robie family.” He additionally talked about his experiences being bullied as little one, which brought on him to “shut down his feelings.” He believed this verbal abuse brought on him to take his “emotional anger and rage out on someone who had done nothing to bring on such violence.”

December 2009: Eric Smith speaks out

Eric Smith
Eric Smith throughout his interview with WENY-TV in December 2009. 


Prior to his 2010 parole listening to, Eric Smith was interviewed by CBS News affiliate, WENY-TV. Smith, nearly 30 years previous on the time, stated his anger on the time of the homicide “wasn’t directed towards Derrick at all,” however somewhat it was directed at the kind of boys who used to tease him. Throughout the interview, Smith persistently expressed regret for his actions. “…if I could switch places with him and take the grave for him to live, I’d do it in second,” he stated. Once once more, the parole board would flip him down.

October 5, 2021: Eric Smith’s eleventh parole board listening to

Eric Smith seems in entrance of the parole board for the eleventh time. In the transcript of the parole listening to, Smith tells the parole board he needs to acquire a university training and plans on working in electrical set up or carpentry. He additionally advised the parole board he was engaged. He stated his fiancée was learning to be a lawyer and wrote him asking concerning the juvenile justice system. He says over time, they fell in love with one another.

October 7, 2021: Parole granted

Eric Smith is granted parole. The parole board primarily based their choice on a number of elements, citing Smith’s clear disciplinary document, robust launch plan, and low scores on his threat evaluation.

November 17, 2021: A march and vigil held for Derrick Robie

Derrick Robie memorial statue
A statue of Derrick Robie, sculpted by Doreen Robie’s uncle and funded by folks from everywhere in the nation, stands on a hill overlooking a ball area inbuilt his reminiscence. A plaque on the statue reads: “Dedicated to be a gentle reminder of what childhood is meant to be. Derrick J. Robie.” 

CBS News

Weeks after the parole board’s choice, a march and candlelight vigil was held in Savona for Derrick Robie. The group members peacefully protested Eric Smith’s launch, whereas additionally ensuring reminiscences of Derrick and his brutal homicide wouldn’t be forgotten. Many feared Smith would transfer again to Savona to dwell along with his mom.

February 1, 2022 – Eric Smith is launched from jail

Eric Smith
Released from jail in February 2022, Eric Smith will stay on parole the remainder of his life.


After being locked up for 28 years, Eric Smith was launched from jail. His launch was delayed for months till accredited housing was discovered for him in Queens, New York. Smith will stay on parole for the remainder of his life. 

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