The state Parole Board on Monday denied a parole request from Eric M. Smith, who is serving a life prison sentence for killing and sodomizing a 4-year-old boy more than 20 years ago in Steuben County when Smith was 13 years old.
The three-member board ruled that paroling Smith, now 34, “would be incompatible with the welfare and safety of society and would so deprecate the serious nature of the crime as to undermine respect for the law.”
The board, in a ruling by deciding member Marc Coppola of Buffalo, cited the “serious and brutal instant offense of murder second degree whereby you caused the death of your 4-year-old male victim.”
The transcript of the parole hearing is available here.
It also cited records that indicate “the victim was brutally beaten and was found with two severe fractures of both temple areas and that he was also sodomized with a stick.”
While noting Smith’s clean record and positive participation in programs at the Collins Correctional Facility since his last appearance before the board two years ago, the board said those two factors do not diminish “the serious loss of life caused by your actions.”
“While the instant offense represents your sole contact with the criminal justice system, the deviant nature and brutality involved is of particular concern to this panel,” the board said.
“Therefore, based on all required factors in the file considered, including but not limited to significant community opposition to your release, discretionary release, at this time, is not appropriate.”
The board ordered Smith held for another 24 months until his next parole hearing in April 2016.
It issued the ruling after interviewing Smith on Wednesday. It was the seventh time that the board has denied his parole request.
Smith’s victim, Derrick Robie, died Aug. 2, 1993, in his hometown of Savona in Steuben County.
Derrick was walking to a recreation program when Smith grabbed him, beat him to death with rocks and sodomized him.
Smith was arrested a few days later and charged as an adult with murder after he confessed to the crime.
The brutal slaying of a 4-year-old at the hands of a 13-year-old shocked the community of less than 1,000 people.
A jury convicted Smith about a year later after a trial at the Steuben County Courthouse in Bath. He never testified, leaving it to his lawyer and mental health experts to present a defense that he suffered from an intermittent explosive disorder.
County Judge Donald Purple later sentenced Smith to nine years to life, ordering that he serve the sentence in a juvenile facility until he turned 21, at which time he would be transferred to a state prison.
Smith has told interviewers that he believes he snapped that day in 1993 because of a lifetime of being bullied and picked on for his red hair, freckles and glasses and that he is sorry for what he did to Derrick and his family.