A slain boy’s family is speaking out following the news that a New York man who went to prison at just 14 years old has been released on parole.
CBS News reports that Eric Smith, who was convicted in 1994 of killing Derrick Robie, 4, was released from the Woodbourne Correctional Facility last month.
Smith lived in the Village of Savon, in the same small upstate New York village as the Robie family. Smith spotted Derrick playing alone on August 2, 1993, as he was walking home from a park.
Tired of being bullied at school, Smith took his frustrations out on the 4-year-old, leaving him beaten, strangled, and sexually abused. Police found the child’s body in a nearby secluded area.
Once a national manhunt for the killer ensued, Smith admitted to what he had done. Smith claimed he was in a bad mood on the day of the murder, since he rode his bike to a recreation program, only to find out the center had not opened yet.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Smith now lives in New York with a fiancee he met through prison letters. Smith said he has changed during his prison time and no longer recognizes his former self.
Derrick’s parents, Doreen and Dale Robie, who have been fighting Smith’s release each time he was eligible for parole, said they won’t allow him to live in their minds anymore.
“I don’t let him take space in my head,” Doreen Robie. said. “I do not focus on where he is, what he’s doing. … ‘cause I don’t care. As long as he’s not near friends and family.”
It took 11 parole hearings before the board released Smith. The release came after Smith said during his latest hearing that he is a changed man who wouldn’t be a threat to society.
“The 13-year-old kid that took [Derrick’s] life… is not the man sitting in front of you talking … if you were to give me the chance, I would not only prove that I’m not a threat,” Smith said during an October 2021 parole hearing. I would definitely be an asset to society.”
“I became the bully that I disliked in my life.”
Smith isn’t allowed to leave New York state without permission, under the guidelines of his parole release. He must also regularly contact his parole officer and refrain from contacting anyone engaged in illegal activities.
Smith said he has certificates in carpentry fabrication and electrical installation and will likely find work in one of those fields.
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[Feature Photo: Handout/CBS News]