Man who was 13 when he killed a four-year-old boy granted parole after decades behind bars

A man who was 13 when he killed a four-year-old boy has been granted parole.

Eric M Smith was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994, and jailed for nine years to life.

A year earlier, he had lured Derrick Robie into the woods and struck him on the head with a rock in the New York village of Savona.

Smith first became eligible for parole in 2002, but Derrick’s parents Dale and Doreen Robie opposed each of his 11 attempts.

On 5 October, he was successful and has been told he will be released as early as 17 November, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said.

As well as statements from the victim’s family, parole boards look at a prisoner’s criminal history, their behaviour in prison, the risk they pose to public safety, and the chances of them being able to successfully reintegrate into society.

During the trial, Smith’s lawyer had tried unsuccessfully to argue that he was mentally ill when he strangled, hit and sexually abused Derrick, who had been walking alone to a local park.

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According to New York newspaper the Elmira Star-Gazette, Smith had told previous parole board interviews that he had been angry after years of being bullied by his father, older sister and classmates.

“He didn’t deserve anything that I did to him, no one deserved that kind of violence,” the newspaper quoted him as saying in 2014.

“What I did to him was brutal.”

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