Eric Smith’s release from prison after 28 years a “huge gamble” says prosecutor


For nearly three many years, Doreen and Dale Robie have lived with the anguish of that day in 1993 after they realized their adored little boy had been lured into the woods, strangled, and overwhelmed with rocks.  If that wasn’t horrific sufficient, his killer was a red-headed, freckle-faced youngster.

“48 Hours” has been overlaying the case since Eric Smith, 13, was charged with killing 4-year-old Derrick Robie. Smith was tried as an grownup and convicted of second-degree homicide.

Smith’s sentence was 9 years to life. However it might even be a life sentence for the Robies as soon as Smith grew to become eligible for parole in 2002.  “They may resolve that effectively, now he is performed his time and we will let him go,” Doreen Robie instructed “48 Hours” contributor Jim Axelrod.

The information the Robies had been dreading got here after Eric Smith’s 11th look earlier than the board — when he was lastly granted parole.  Smith instructed WENY-TV in 2009 he had massive plans for his future. “I need to get married and lift a household,” Smith stated. “Pursue the American dream.”

John Tunney, who prosecuted Smith’s case, says it is too early to know if that can occur.

“On the finish of the day, it is nonetheless a bit little bit of a bet,” Axelrod famous.

“Oh, no, no. It is an enormous gamble,” Tunney replied. “This parole choice is a high-risk enterprise, to make sure.”


After being locked up for 28 years, Eric Smith – who murdered a toddler as a teen– is free. He is out on parole in Queens, New York.  Smith insists he is a modified man deserving of freedom; that he has a plan for a recent begin, even a fiancée.  However others fear that Eric Smith remains to be a flat-out menace.  

Dale and Doreen Robie feared at the present time would come. Our story begins with them.

Dan Somewhat coated the case for” 48 Hours” when it first broke.


In the summertime of 1993, Derrick Robie and his household lived simply down the road from this park within the small city of Savona, New York.

Dale Robie coached T-ball. It was his son Derrick’s favourite recreation.

Doreen Robie: He’d go, “This one’s for you, Mommy.” Good job, Deej!

Derrick Robie
Derrick Robie

Robie household

Derrick was all boy, on a regular basis.

Doreen Robie: You realize, he was going to get me a house run and … he normally did.

Dale Robie: He liked it.

Derrick additionally attended a recreation program on the park and Doreen Robie at all times watched as her son made the quick journey. However one August morning Derrick’s child brother was crying, and Doreen Robie had her fingers full.

Doreen Robie: Dalton was very fussy that morning and Derrick says, “It is OK, Mother.  I will — I will go on my own.  You realize, it is no drawback.  The children are in all probability taking place the road.”

Derrick was practically 5 and knew the route very effectively. So, Doreen Robie allowed him to stroll by himself.  She packed his lunch and off he went.

Doreen Robie: He gave me a kiss and I stated, “I like you,” and he says, “I like you, Mother.”

Dan Somewhat: So, he has a block — solely a block to go?

Doreen Robie: Mm-hmm (affirms).

Dan Somewhat: No streets to cross.

Doreen Robie: No. It was a dead-end avenue. The primary time I’ve ever let him go anyplace alone.

A short while later, as storm clouds moved in, Doreen felt one thing near panic.

Doreen Robie: I had an terrible feeling.

It started to pour.  

Doreen Robie: I swear that that was the second that he died.

Dan Somewhat: You consider that?

Doreen Robie: Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  I — I — I believe that he was letting me know.

Dale Robie: Derrick was very near us. If there was any approach he might inform us he was leaving, he would have tried.

Doreen raced to the park to select up Derrick.  She was instructed that he had by no means arrived.  

Derrick Robie crime scene
Derrick Robie crime scene

Steuben County District Lawyer’s Workplace

Practically 5 hours later, searchers discovered Derrick’s physique in a small patch of woods, only a few yards from the park and some hundred yards from his personal entrance door.  Derrick had been choked and overwhelmed to demise with rocks.  Neighbors positioned a cross on the scene.

Doreen Robie: I’ve misplaced my boy. We have misplaced him. He is gone.

Dale Robie: The largest factor I bear in mind was – (to Doreen, too upset to proceed) — go … go forward.

Doreen Robie (to Dale): That while you instructed your dad that you simply would not be capable to do the issues that he did with you?

The streets of Savona had been empty as nervous mother and father saved their kids inside. The fast assumption was that Derrick Robie’s killer was a stranger from out of city.  That is what Eric Smith’s grandfather believed.

Purple Wilson: When this horrible factor was performed, all people, together with myself, thought it was an grownup and the way might anyone do such a horrible, horrible factor.

Eric Smith grew up simply throughout city and preferred to spend time along with his grandparents, Purple and Edie Wilson.

Purple Wilson: He would at all times are available and provides us hugs and kisses.

Purple Wilson: He liked being a comic book, preferred clowning round.

Edie Wilson: He undoubtedly needed to be paid consideration to.

Purple Wilson: Yeah.

Eric Smith
“He liked being a comic book, preferred clowning round,” Purple Wilson stated of his grandson, Eric Smith. Smith’s  vivid crimson hair and freckles made him a goal of bullies in school.

Household house video

However Eric’s vivid crimson hair and freckles made him a goal in school for years. And as a young person, he was seen pedaling round city for hours on finish …  alone. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why did he do it?

CAPTAIN WALTER DELAP: I do not know why he did it. … I requested him why he did it.  His phrases, nearly verbatim, had been, “I do not know. I simply noticed this child, this blond child, and I needed to harm him.”


On August 2, 1993, the physique of Derrick Robie was present in a small patch of woods halfway between the park the place he was headed and his house.

John Tunney (2004): It is arduous to grasp any individual doing what Eric Smith did.

John Tunney: He selected to finish Derrick Robie’s life. And he selected to do it in a approach that was far more than simply killing.

Prosecutor John Tunney vividly remembers the crime scene and the brutality of the homicide.

John Tunney: He might have merely killed Derrick, however he selected to not merely kill Derrick.

Investigator Charles Wooden (on the crime scene in 2004): Straight behind us is the scene the place the murder occurred.

Charles Wooden was lead investigator. The proof confirmed that Derrick was lured from the sidewalk and strangled. The killer’s id was then nonetheless unknown.

Investigator Charles Wooden: Effectively, then he found and dug up one very massive rock and one smaller rock and he battered Derrick with these rocks. He went into Derrick’s lunch bag, and he smashed a banana and took Derrick’s Kool-Support, and he really poured that Kool-Support into the injuries that had been made by the big rocks. And he sodomized Derrick with a small stick that he had discovered.

Derrick Robie murder evidence
The banana, left, and an empty drink container from Derrick Robie’s lunch bag had been discovered on the crime scene.


Lastly, the killer organized Derrick’s physique.

Charles Wooden: The left sneaker had been eliminated and was mendacity close to Derrick’s proper hand. And his proper sneaker had been eliminated and was mendacity close to Derrick’s left hand.

Charles Wooden: It nearly appeared just like the physique had been posed in that place.

John Tunney: Eric continued to cope with Derrick’s physique as a result of he needed to, as a result of he selected to and, most frighteningly, as a result of he loved it.

The phrase “take pleasure in,” so disturbing on this context, would come up time and again in the midst of the investigation. The very first time was 4 days after the homicide when Eric Smith walked into the police command middle to see if he could possibly be of assist in fixing the crime.

John Hibsch: Completely loved it. Completely loved it. Did not need it to finish.

John Hibsch and different investigators repeatedly talked with Eric Smith and had no concept the killer was sitting proper in entrance of them.

John Hibsch: I imply, he is trying proper at me, he is — you understand, he is sort of hunched over a bit bit and he is very, very upbeat, very glad. He likes the truth that he is being talked to.

At first, Eric denied seeing Derrick Robie, however then he abruptly modified his story.

John Hibsch: He says, “Proper throughout the road from the open discipline. And that is the place I noticed Derrick.” And when he stated that, he about knocked me off the chair.

Derrick Robie's lunchbag
Eric Smith instructed investigators what Derrick Robie was sporting and described the lunch bag he was carrying as “sort of cool, actually.”


John Hibsch: He is placing him proper on prime of the crime scene. You simply bought to stroll throughout on open discipline and — and also you’re on the scene of the place the homicide was. So, we requested him then what was he sporting, and he went on. He stated he had a white T-shirt on, and he had this lunch bag in his hand. “OK, inform me concerning the lunch bag.” And he stated, “It was sort of cool, actually.”

The investigators pushed Eric to pinpoint the place he final noticed Derrick.

John Hibsch: And — and that is when he bought — he began to get emotional. His — his voice began cracking. His put his head down, and he brings his fists up. And his fists had been vibrating a bit bit. And he goes, “You assume I killed him, do not you?” I noticed from the opposite two investigators they had been similar to, “Wow.”

Eric requested to take a break, and his father introduced him a glass of Kool-Support.

John Hibsch: Simply as we bought again into it once more about the place he’d seen Derrick once more, he — he grabs the crimson Kool-Support and simply throws it on the bottom.

John Hibsch: Now all of us knew that Derrick, the boy that was killed, had crimson Kool-Support spilled throughout him. You realize, I am pondering that, you understand, this child’s seen one thing that is very, very traumatic and he —- and there is a block in there, and — and I can not get round it.

Eric Smith with investigators
Investigators requested Eric Smith to get on his bike and present them the place he was when he noticed Derrick Robie.  “Throughout the re-enactment, I must say he loved it. He was having time,” stated Investigator Wooden.


The subsequent day, investigators ask Eric to get on his bike and present them the place he was when he noticed Derrick Robie. Investigator Wooden was there. Within the police videotape, Eric appears calm as will be.

Investigator Charles Wooden: Throughout the re-enactment, I must say he loved it. He was having time.

However it rapidly grew to become apparent that Eric couldn’t have seen all that he described from the space he claimed to be.

Purple Wilson: There was a discrepancy in Eric’s story.

Purple Wilson, Eric’s grandfather, says the household knew Eric was hiding one thing.

Purple Wilson: In — by no means did we really feel that he had performed it.

Purple Wilson: We felt that he knew one thing. Possibly any individual had threatened him, that is why he would not inform.

5 days after he was killed, Derrick Robie was buried in his baseball uniform. Simply two days later, his killer confessed.

Purple Wilson: I used to be there. I used to be there when my grandson confessed. It was — it was horrible.

Relations sat Eric down and begged him to inform what he knew. The reality was extra horrible than they ever imagined.

Dan Somewhat: And he simply stated what?

Purple Wilson: “I am sorry, Mother. I am sorry. I killed that little boy.” It is nonetheless arduous to consider.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith presses his hand to his mom’s towards the window of a police automobile after his confession and arrest. “We love you Eric,” stated Tammy Smith.

CBS Information

Purple Wilson: The query is, you understand, to me, why? How? How might he take the lifetime of a bit boy?

A 12 months after Eric’s confession, the query stays. What might probably compel this youngster to kill one other? 

John Tunney: Does he know what he is performed? Does he know it is incorrect?

A stricken group is seeking to a courtroom for a solution.

KEVIN BRADLEY | Protection legal professional: The proof you are gonna hear on this case goes to be horrible.

Will the trial of Eric Smith put an finish to the thriller that started on August 2, 1993, the final day of Derrick Robie’s quick life?


Steuben County Courthouse | August 1994 

The trial of the individuals vs.  Eric Smith is lastly below approach. 

Prosecuting legal professional John Tunney:

Prosecuting attorney John Tunney
At trial, prosecuting legal professional John Tunney motions to indicate 4-year-old Derrick Robie’s top. Eric Smith and his protection legal professional Kevin Bradley are at proper.

CBS Information

JOHN TUNNEY: (in courtroom) He was about that tall [motioning to show Derrick Robie’s height].  He weighed 40 kilos.

JOHN TUNNEY: He lived 4 years and 10 months.  And that particular person killed him.  Eric Smith choked and battered the younger life out of Derrick Robie. 

In New York State, homicide is the one crime for which a 13-year-old will be tried in grownup courtroom.

Dan Somewhat: You are a father of 5.

John Tunney: That is appropriate.

Dan Somewhat: It’s essential to have considered that — should give it some thought within the context of making an attempt a 13-year-old son of one other household.

John Tunney: Sure.  However you understand the place I first considered it’s after I checked out 4-year-old Derrick Robie, the face of each one in all my 5 kids was superimposed on that kid’s physique.

On the coronary heart of this trial, the haunting query: Why did Eric kill? 

JOHN TUNNEY: (In courtroom) The actual fact is that Eric selected to do one thing horrible.

Protection Lawyer Kevin Bradley says there was no selection.

Eric Smith trial
Eric Smith’s legal professional Kevin Bradley holds a big rock Smith used to kill Derrick Robie. 

CBS Information

KEVIN BRADLEY: (in courtroom) Eric Smith suffers from a really critical psychological illness. To select this up, throw this down on a bit boy’s head, does that recommend calm, deliberate motion? A plan?

KEVIN BRADLEY: You are going to hear testimony by those that say Eric simply appeared like a traditional youngster after which the craze explodes.

John Tunney: It doesn’t diminish the truth that he understood what he was doing.

Tunney says it is homicide, plain and easy.

John Tunney: Eric analyzed the state of affairs and selected to do it.

To assist him with the case, Tunney will probably be calling on Derrick’s mother and father, Dale and Doreen Robie.

John Tunney: She has to personalize the tragedy, the loss, the fear, to deliver Derrick Robie the particular person into that courtroom.

JOHN TUNNEY: Describe Derrick.                                                                      

DOREEN ROBIE: He was my cute little firecracker. 

However bringing Derrick Robie into the courtroom isn’t going to be straightforward. 

DOREEN ROBIE: He was my little T-ball participant.  He wa — excellent athlete.

JOHN TUNNEY: How did he get alongside and work together with individuals?

KEVIN BRADLEY: Objection, Your Honor.

JOHN TUNNEY: Derrick participated within the — within the recreation program.

KEVIN BRADLEY: Objection to the shape.

JOHN TUNNEY: What was he taking part in?

KEVIN BRADLEY: I’ll object once more at this level.

The choose agrees and Doreen isn’t permitted to say a lot in any respect about Derrick.

Doreen Robie (1994): I want I might have gotten an opportunity to speak about Derrick a bit extra… And it actually wasn’t honest that I did not get to inform them what sort of child he was.

It is time for the protection to current its case.  Bradley begins by calling on two individuals who know extra about Eric than anybody else: his mom, Tammy Smith, and his stepfather, Ted Smith. 

The jury heard that as a toddler Eric threw mood tantrums and banged his head on the ground. He had speech issues, was held again at school and relentlessly bullied. 

TAMMY SMITH: He would say issues like, “I am silly.  I am no one.  I am,” you understand, “I am by no means going to be anyone,” that sort of stuff.

TED SMITH: I bear in mind him coming as much as me within the kitchen.  He was actually upset, and he was crunching his fist and shaking and instructed me that — he stated, “Dad, I need assistance.” … “I really feel like I need to harm any individual.” And he stated, “Sure, I do. I need to harm one thing.”

TAMMY SMITH: At one level, he turned and instructed me that he — he did it… I requested him why … he simply saved saying, “I do not know. I do not know.” And he cried.

Protection psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Herman recognized Eric with intermittent explosive dysfunction, uncontrollable rage.

DR. STEPHEN HERMAN: Individuals who have this dysfunction describe feeling as in the event that they’re about to blow up. … After the episodic rage, the kid might seem like quote “regular.”

An professional for the prosecution disagreed with Dr. Herman’s analysis.

DR. KATHLKEEN QUINN: It is a uncommon dysfunction, not often seen on the age that Eric is.

And specialists from each side subjected Eric to in depth medical testing. They examined mind operate, hormone ranges, and located nothing to elucidate his violent habits. 

Due to the sexual nature of his crime, the query of whether or not Eric was abused was repeatedly raised at trial, however repeatedly denied.

JOHN TUNNEY: Did he point out to you usually and persistently that he had not been both bodily or sexually abused?

Dr. STEPHEN HERMAN: Sure, he has at all times indicated that.

Nevertheless, there was testimony that Eric’s older sister, Stacy Hevner, was sexually abused by their stepfather.

Stacy Hevner: He molested me … I might need to know if he was molested. There needed to have been one thing bothering him. 

Nonetheless, there was completely no proof that Ted Smith or anybody else sexually abused Eric.

John Tunney: Are there points? Are there issues? Certain. However it doesn’t recurrently produce killers.   

John Tunney: Did he know what he was doing? Did he know when he was strangling Derrick, that he was strangling a toddler … And if he knew that what he was doing was incorrect, that he should not have been doing it, then he can have each psychological, psychiatric drawback on the earth and he is nonetheless liable for what he did.

Dan Somewhat: Underneath the regulation.

John Tunney: Underneath the regulation.

However what does the jury consider?

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

CBS Information

JUDGE DONALD G. PURPLE: So, you discover the defendant responsible of homicide within the second diploma?

VOICE #4:  Sure.

JUDGE DONALD G. PURPLE: Is that unanimous?

VOICE #4: Sure.

Eric’s mother and father, Ted and Tammy Smith, had been devastated, satisfied their youngster was sick.

JUDGE DONALD G. PURPLE: Take the younger man in custody.

He could be sentenced to the utmost: 9 years to life in jail. The murdered boy’s mother and father, Dale and Doreen Robie, cried with aid not figuring out that they had been being sentenced, too.


Jim Axelrod: The Robies, they’re serving a life sentence.

Joni Johnston: Uh-huh (affirms). … each time that inmate is up for parole … They relive it.  So, it is only a nightmare for them.

Dale Robie: it actually felt prefer it, you understand, at a sure level, why do now we have to? Wasn’t the crime sufficient?

Jim Axelrod:  When Eric Smith was sentenced … was there a way … “Now we will get on with our lives?”

Dale Robie: You hear the “9 years to life.” And I believe again then all people was specializing in the life aspect of it.

Dale and and Doreen Robie had been relieved that the boy who murdered their beloved son was locked away. 

Dale Robie: We had been nonetheless making an attempt to recover from our loss … Then I believe we nearly bought settled in … for a 12 months or two, then it hit us.

Derrick Robie
Derrick Robie

Robie household

What hit them was the cruel actuality that Derrick’s killer would in the future be eligible for launch.  Eric Smith’s first parole listening to was in 2002.

Doreen Robie: They may resolve that effectively, now he is performed his time and we will let him go. … It scares the hell out of me. 

The Robies weren’t allowed contained in the closed-door hearings, so that they wrote letters and made house movies to remind the board about their devastating loss. 

Doreen Robie: It upsets me, the truth that now we have to beg to maintain this killer behind bars.

Smith’s parole was denied. However two years later, he was again earlier than the board.

Eric Smith interview
Eric Smith learn his assertion to “48 Hours” in 2004. 

CBS Information

In 2004, Smith was 24 years outdated.  This can be a assertion he learn for our “48 Hours” cameras:

ERIC SMITH (studying): “Hello, my title is Eric Smith. You first met me 11 years in the past. … I do know my actions have brought on a horrible loss within the Robie household, and for that I’m really sorry.”

Joni Johnston: I believe that Eric Smith was extremely troubled, and I believe he was a harmful younger man.    

Joni Johnston is a medical forensic psychologist.  For greater than 20 years, she’s been evaluating inmates who’re up for parole. 

Joni Johnston: Once we’re taking a look at a really inexact science, if you’ll, making an attempt to foretell whether or not any individual is — is harmful … it is like balancing a scale. … are we keen to take a threat?

Johnston has by no means met Eric Smith, however “48 Hours” requested her to take a look at his case.

Joni Johnston: I do not see Eric Smith in any respect as a child who snapped. I see him as a child who escalated. … from hurting animals beginning at round age 11 and who ultimately progressed to hurting a toddler. 

She additionally learn transcripts of his parole hearings.

Joni Johnston: 2004 was actually essentially the most scary … that is any individual who goes into an amazing quantity of element by way of what he did.

Again then, John Tunney shared a few of what Smith instructed the parole board.

John Tunney (2004, studying parole listening to transcript): Query: “You satisfied him to go to this discipline. What did you do subsequent?” … Reply: “Put my fingers round him and strangled him.”

All these years later, Eric Smith’s phrases are nonetheless chilling.

John Tunney (studying): “If you had been doing that, was that one thing that gave you feeling? “Reply: “In the intervening time, it did, sure.”

Joni Johnston:  In all probability essentially the most important and scary factor is it is a child the place the narrative appears to have been this sort of rage, or this particular person’s incapacity to manage his anger. … And but … the emotion he expresses is pleasure or enjoyment.  

John Tunney [reading]: Query: “Why do you assume that was?” Reply: “As a result of — as an alternative of me being harm, I used to be hurting any individual else. Rising up, I used to be at all times picked on, disrespected, made enjoyable of.”

John Tunney: Eric was uninterested in being the sufferer in his thoughts … And he needed to see what it felt prefer to be the victimizer.

Jim Axelrod [reading]: There is a query. “Mr. Smith … In the event you had not admitted to somebody that you simply had performed this, do you assume it might’ve been a good assertion to say that you simply in all probability would have performed it once more?” Reply: “Sure.”

That confirmed Tunney’s perception that Smith at 13 was a budding serial killer 

John Tunney:  I used to be afraid then, and admittedly, (sigh) as I sit right here now, I believe that Eric Smith might very effectively have performed it once more — ‘trigger it was such a optimistic expertise for him.

Jim Axelrod: It made him really feel good.

John Tunney: He bought lots out of it.  And — had he not been recognized … he would not have paid a worth.

The parole board’s choice in 2004 was no shock. However, for the Robies, there was at all times one other listening to looming.

Jim Axelrod:  It will need to have felt like a weight hanging proper over your head.

Doreen Robie: Sure. … there’s all these … actually glad instances which can be alleged to occur all through your life. … however there’s at all times that.

Dale Robie: We at all times bought a letter about three or 4 months previous to that … Ours at all times fell round Christmas.

Doreen Robie: You realize, right here placing the Christmas tree up, and we’re studying this letter that, right here we go once more. … it simply made me indignant.

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


That is Eric Smith in 2009, simply months earlier than his fifth parole listening to:

ERIC SMITH: It is comprehensible that they’d by no means need me to be out in society.

ERIC SMITH: My anger wasn’t directed at Derrick in any respect. It was directed in any respect the opposite guys who used to select on me. And after I was torturing and killing Derrick … That was what I noticed in my head.

Smith, nearly 30, was interviewed by WENY-TV as he ready to face the board.

ERIC SMITH: The one factor that I can say to ’em is I am not the identical particular person. … there’s not a day that goes by ultimately, form, or kind that I am, like, compelled to recollect what I did … I am mechanically pondering I killed Derrick and the ache that I brought on Dale and Doreen Robie. 

John Tunney [watching interview with Axelrod]: The issue is … how honest is it? … versus how contrived or calculated it’s? … I definitely cannot inform as I sit right here.

Jim Axelrod: You possibly can’t?

John Tunney: No. … for us to have any actual hope, he must be correct when he says, you understand, “I am completely different,” you understand, “I am self-aware and I’ve each motive on the earth to behave.” 

Jim Axelrod: It is not a query does he consider it.  Is it true?

John Tunney:  Is it correct.  Precisely.

ERIC SMITH: I did kill Derrick. And for that, you understand, I’m sorry. … And there is nothing I can do to deliver him again. I imply, if I might swap locations with him and take the grave for him to stay, I might do it in a second.

Joni Johnston:  Regret is necessary for positive.

Joni Johnston additionally needs to know if it is the reality however cautions that expressions of regret at a parole listening to will be troublesome to guage.

Joni Johnston:  is it real regret? Lemme inform ya. There isn’t a psychological check. (laughs) There isn’t a face.  There isn’t a behavioral indicator of regret. … We do not actually know if this regret is actual.

The parole board in 2010 turned him down once more, however because the years handed, Johnston says Smith gave the impression to be altering.

Joni Johnston: You are beginning to see some compassion — from him for different individuals. So, I am seeing a bit little bit of hope for him now.

Jim Axelrod: Is Eric Smith rising or is he merely refining his message?   

Joni Johnston: I believe each. … definitely parole boards need to at all times separate that out, which is why they don’t seem to be simply counting on what this inmate is saying within the parole listening to. You realize, thank the lord … They’re gonna be … taking a look at all this particular person’s historical past. What has this particular person performed or — or not performed within the two years since he is been right here? … they’re trying on the parole interview as one piece of that puzzle.

However for the Robies, many years of infinite parole hearings have taken a toll.

Doreen Robie: It is not honest that now we have to maintain doing this.

Jim Axelrod: Did you ever lose the vitality to maintain going with this? …  I — I can not anymore?

Doreen Robie: Yeah, that, I imply … he would say, “However we’re doin’ it for him in his reminiscence.” And I am, like, “You are proper” … And I do know that some individuals in all probability assume, “Geez, it is best to simply recover from this and — and transfer on.” However any father or mother that has ever misplaced a toddler is aware of that you do not ever recover from it.

On October 5, 2021, 41-year-old Eric Smith, went earlier than the parole board for the 11th time.

Joni Johnston:  You have got any individual … who’s accomplished a ton of packages … He is bought some extra instructional targets. … His threat is low, in line with … threat evaluation which can be being performed.

Smith even instructed them that he was engaged.  He says his fiancée was finding out to be a lawyer and wrote him asking concerning the juvenile justice system. Over time, he says, they ended up falling in love.

Joni Johnston:  Eric Smith at 13 isn’t the identical particular person that he’s — that he’s at 31 … Or at 41. He has modified. All of us change. … And also you kinda go, “What else can he do? … to show that he’s not a hazard to society. … now we’re on the level the place it turns into, is that this about punishment or about rehabilitation?

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: Breaking information.  The Savona man who killed a four-year-old boy in 1993, has been granted parole.

Youngster killer will get parole after 28 years behind bars


Dale Robie was at work when he heard the information he’d been dreading for thus a few years and referred to as Doreen.

Dale Robie: We discovered one another on the porch and gave one another a hug.

John Tunney: I’ve some sympathy for the people who find themselves referred to as upon to make that call. … And that is why I … have such hope — that they are proper.

Jim Axelrod: On the finish of the day, it is nonetheless a bit little bit of a bet.

John Tunney: Oh, no, no. It is an enormous gamble. … This parole choice is a high-risk enterprise, to make sure.


Weeks after Eric Smith was granted parole, dozens gathered in Savona to peacefully protest his launch.

PROTESTER: “We’re right here as a group to face collectively for justice for Derrick Robie … and for Dale and Doreen Robie …”

Dale Robie: They needed to recollect Derrick as a result of all the eye was now on Eric being launched. So, they did not need individuals to neglect, you understand.

Doreen Robie: It was very touching.

Doreen and Dale Robie
Doreen and Dale Robie

CBS Information

Many in Savona feared Smith needed to maneuver again to stay along with his mom.

Doreen Robie: I wasn’t a lot nervous about us as I used to be all people else.

Dale Robie: I simply knew the place lots of people on the town within the village stood.

Doreen Robie: You realize, we do not need him right here. Higher not ship him right here.

And the parole board agreed. Smith’s launch was delayed for months till authorized housing was discovered for him in Queens, New York, over 200 miles away from Savona.

WROC NEWS REPORT: “That is breaking information from Information 8 … Eric Smith, who has been behind bars for practically three many years … is not in jail.”

After which on February 1, 2022, after being locked up for 28 years, Eric Smith quietly slipped out of Woodbourne Correctional Facility — out of view of cameras — a free man.

Doreen Robie: I perceive why after so a few years they determined to present him an opportunity. And that is superb, you understand for him and his household.

It could start a brand new chapter for the Robies who had fought for thus lengthy to maintain Smith in jail. 

Doreen Robie: You realize he is been launched. However in a approach so have we. … No extra parole. … I can get on with our lives. … Now the true therapeutic can start.

Doreen says a part of the therapeutic course of has been letting go of her anger.

Doreen Robie: I might moderately snigger than cry any day of the week … In the event you let it, it will eat you alive.

Jim Axelrod: The anger.

Doreen Robie: Sure.

The Robies say they select not to consider Eric Smith, however as an alternative concentrate on family and friends — particularly their son Dalton, now 30.

Doreen Robie: You need to discover pleasure in life. You need to take pleasure in one another, as a result of life is just too quick and simply stay.

Dale Robie: August 2nd, the day we misplaced him, we at all times try to go to do one thing enjoyable. White ice cream with sprinkles. That is what Derrick referred to as vanilla, so we attempt to —

Doreen Robie: Wherever we’re, now we have to go discover ice cream. 

Dale Robie: (cries) Though it is unhappy. It is glad. 

Killer of 4-year-old boy freed, parents begin to heal by
48 Hours on

As for Eric Smith, since his launch, “48 Hours” has been unable to contact him. However in 2009 he instructed WENY-TV, he had massive plans for his future.

ERIC SMITH [2009]: I need to get married and lift a household. You realize maintain down a job. Pursue the American dream.

He additionally stated he needed to counsel children who’ve been bullied — similar to he had been.

Jim Axelrod: The query is will Eric Smith be successful story or any individual had been pointing to and saying, “the system blew it with that one”?

John Tunney: That is precisely proper. … I preserve going again to my hope. … Time will inform. 

Again in the summertime of 1993, to honor Derrick Robie, volunteers – together with Eric Smith’s nice grandfather — bulldozed the scene of the crime and put in a brand new ball discipline in reminiscence of the little T- ball participant. 

At the moment, up on the hill watching over the sphere is a statue of Derrick. It was sculpted by Doreen’s uncle and funded by individuals from everywhere in the nation.

Derrick Robie memorial statue
A statue of the unofficial mayor of Savona overlooks a ball discipline named in honor of Derrick Robie.

CBS Information

Dale Robie [reading plaque on the statue]: “Devoted to be a mild reminder of what childhood is supposed to be. Derrick J. Robie.”

Doreen Robie: I like that he is the one particular person on the town that has a statue. Lots of people referred to as him the “mayor of Savona” as a result of he was fairly well-known.

Jim Axelrod: At 4 years and 10 months outdated?

Doreen Robie: Sure. … He simply, he was a lot enjoyable. He was only a nice child.

Eric Smith will stay on parole for the remainder of his life.

Produced by Judy Tygard, Lisa Freed and Chris Younger Ritzen. Mead Stone is the producer-editor. Tamara Weitzman is the event producer.  Kat Teurfs and Michael Loftus are the affiliate producers. Mike Baluzy, Greg Kaplan, Doreen Schechter and Gregory F. McLaughlin are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.

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