Eric Smith did the unthinkable. His crime’s details were hard for any of the public to hear, but what made it more shocking was his young age and the sheer brutality of the murder. At the young age of 13 and so full of rage and the need to hurt another person, murdered a sweet 4-year-old child on August 2, 1993.
The judge sentenced the teenager to nine years to life. After being denied parole ten times, finally in 2021, Smith earned his parole. Several months later, the man the media dubbed The Freckled-Face killer was free.
Derrick Robie’s family, the boy he murdered in 1993, struggle to understand how their son’s murderer is now a free man. They firmly believe Smith will kill again and believe he is still a risk to society.
About The Murder
On August 2, 1993, Smith encountered Robie after a day camp threw him out for unacceptable behavior. He lured the 4-year-old to a wooded area to assault him. Smith said he had this rage building and he "just wanted to hurt someone." He strangled the boy, slammed a rock into his head., and sodomized him with a stick. Six days later, Eric told his parents he killed Derrick. They immediately alerted the police about their son’s tearful confession.
After his arrest, the defense tried to find a reason for his explosive and dangerous behavior, but they came up empty after conducting multiple medical, blood, and psychological tests. All the testing they did, came back normal. There wasn't a medical or psychological reason for the killing.
During the trial, Eric’s attorney said that the 13-year-old grew up in an abusive home, and suffered endless bullying from his classmates. In the end, Smith admitted he became the bully when he took the life of Derrick Robie.
On August 16, 1994, the judge sentenced Smith to nine years to life for the second degree murder of Derrick Robie. He would be eligible for parole as early as 2002, just nine years after his conviction.
“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,” Smith apologized in a jailhouse recording after his sentence.
“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.
This question is a difficult to answer. On one hand, sure, everyone deserves a second chance. However, on the other, this man killed a four-year-old boy at 13, by brutally attacking and sexually assaulting him.
It is hard to look past his crimes. The public opinion doesn’t matter anymore as the parole board released him. Smith told the parole board he plans to marry his fiancee and dedicate his life helping teenagers struggling with mental illness.
As part of his parole restrictions, Smith cannot leave the state of New York without permission. He will remain on parole for the rest of his life. Since his release in February, Eric has stayed out of the public eye, seeking employment in the construction industry.
Twenty-eight years is a long time to spend in prison. I understand why some oppose his release, but if he did his part in his rehabilitation and therapy, he earned his parole release.
Tell me what do you think? Do you think Eric Smith deserves a second chance? Don’t forget to heart and follow me to read more of my stories.
Originally published on Medium: https://medium.com/true-crime-examiner/freckled-face-killer-eric-smith-paroled-does-he-deserve-a-second-chance-3ce5289e6e43
About the Creator
Chrissie has spent the last 20 years writing online for several major news outlets. When not writing, you’ll find her watching a Lifetime movie, wearing her favorite PJs with a frozen soda in hand.