Eric M. Smith (born January 22, 1980) is an American criminal, incarcerated for the murder, sexual abuse and mutilation of four-year-old Derrick Robie (born October 2, 1988) on August 2, 1993, in Steuben County, New York.
According to court documents, Smith, a loner, was often tormented by bullies for his protruding low-set ears, thick glasses, red hair and freckles. The murder case made national headlines, largely due to the young ages of the killer (13 years) and of the victim (4 years).
Smith attracted Robie to a remote location in a park. There Smith strangled Robie, dropped a pair of large rocks 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. Two days after Robie’s funeral, Smith admitted to Robie’s killing. In 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.
Smith has been denied parole five times since 2002, most recently in April 2010. He is next eligible for parole in April 2012.