On Tuesday, August 3, 1993, four-year-old Derrick Robie's body was found deceased three blocks from his home in Savona, Steuben County, New York in a nearby park. State police immediately announced Robie's death as a homicide because of the multiple body trauma that resulted in his murder. Police eventually arrest Eric Smith, a thirteen-year-old bully, for Robie's murder and sentence him to 9 years to life in prison.
Derrick Robie of 33 Church Street was an "ordinary boy, just like everyone else's kid," according to his uncle. Derrick was the son of Dale and Doreen Robie, an avid tee-ball and soccer player, and had a younger brother, age 2.
Body defiled with tree limb
An autopsy on Derrick's body revealed severe head injuries, including multiple skull fractures and cerebral swelling and contusions, extensive tearing and bleeding of tissues in the chest, a perforation (puncture) of the intestinal wall, and pinpoint hemorrhages on the neck, face, and eyes, indicative of asphyxiation.
More shockingly than his official cause of death though was the stick stuffed inside his rectum. According to the confession of Eric Smith, he had a "stick up his butt."
The bully was himself bullied
The arrest of thirteen-year-old Eric Smith was swift, and the teen was quickly charged with second degree murder of Derrick Robie. Prior to his arrest, Eric Smith lied to police saying that he never saw Robie on the day of the murder, but later, with the help of his family, admitted that he not only saw Derrick but also led him into a woody area to carry out his murder.
Later testimony from Eric Smith revealed that he himself was also bullied regularly, both at school and at his own home. Smith showed a very low self-esteem often telling himself that he wasn't good enough for society and believed himself as unattractive.
"He was really withdrawn."
Smith was a troubled kid by most accounts, being held back twice for failure to hit normal milestones at his age. His biological father refused to pay child support and Laurie Elliott, whom he often lived with, stated, "I sort of took him in, he didn't have very many friends. I felt sorry for him. He was really withdrawn."
Eric Smith fits the infamous Macdonald Triad (setting fires, hurting animals, and bed wetting)
Eric Smith also fit into the MacDonald Triad, a trifecta of three traits coined in 1963 by forensic psychiatrist J.M. McDonald often seen in future murderers that include animal cruelty, fire starting, and bedwetting.
In Eric Smith's childhood he threw constant tantrums, banged his head repeatedly on the wall, had speech problems, became attracted to girls by the age of four, became a heavy smoker by age nine, and would often drool when speaking in normal conversation.
Eric also engrossed himself in the writings of Stephen King and Christopher Pike, whom wrote about themes of teenage violence, murder, and gore.
His mental disorder is to blame?
Later at the trial Stephen T. Herman, M.D. would testify in Eric's defense that the teen suffered from Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder (low-grade depression), "that rendered him unable to control his rage and unable to understand or appreciate the nature and consequences of his actions.
It's worth also noting that his mother while pregnant with Eric Smith was on epilepsy and depression medications, which many doctors believe influenced his birth traits.
Will Eric Smith parole in 2021?
Eric Smith is still in prison for the murder of Derrick Robie and has been denied parole several times. Smith claims he has changed and dreams of becoming a forensic psychologist so that he can "have an opportunity to help other people and not to commit crimes," he told his parole board.
Since being locked up in prison, Eric Smith has learned carpentry and electrical work and also received his equivalent to a high school diploma.
Eric Smith said, "I know it was a serious crime. I've taken responsibility for it. I wish I had never committed this crime. I do regret it. I have remorse for the victim and the victim's family."