Eric was just 13 when he committed his devastating crime.
Eric Smith was a child who had endured years of bullying and torment. A red-haired boy with low-set, protruding ears, thick glasses and a speech impediment, he was also held back at school for a year, which opened him up to ridicule and contempt.
Smith was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, a mental condition causing individuals to act violently and unpredictably.
It was August 2, 1993 Smith set out on his bike, circling the neighbourhood of Steuben County, New York alone, as he often did.
Four-year-old Derrick Robie was walking unaccompanied to a rural summer camp when he ran into Smith. The older boy lured Derrick to a remote place where he tortured and murdered the little lad.
Smith beat the child with rocks, dropping two large ones onto his head, and strangled him. Sickeningly, he then took a stick and sodomised the dead child’s body.
Then he callously went through Derrick’s lunch bag, and poured his red Kool Aid drink into the wound in Derrick’s head.
After the murder, Eric coolly returned home as if nothing had happened.
Red Wilson, Eric’s grandfather later admitted that they knew he was hiding something from the family, ‘In no way did we feel he had done it. So we felt that he knew something, maybe somebody had threatened him. That’s why he wouldn’t tell.’
But, five days later, he confessed the awful truth to his parents.
On August 16, 1994, Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile killers — a minimum of nine years to life in prison. Smith has been denied parole eight times since 2002, most recently in April 2016.
When asked why he did it, Smith has subsequently claimed When asked ‘Because instead of me being hurt, I was hurting someone else.’
He will next be eligible for consideration in 2018, a possibility that is deeply upsetting for victim Derrick’s mum Doreen, she said, ‘my biggest worry is that I still have a 12-year-old. There’s certainly enough things to worry about with an adolescent, other than the fact that there could be a killer running loose. I don’t like to say that very often, because I don’t want to scare Dalton. But that’s the way I look at that.’