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Eric Smith, who killed a 4-year-old boy with a rock in 1993, is granted parole

Derrick Robie in an undated image. (FILE PHOTO)

ALBANY, N.Y. — Eric M. Smith, who was 13 when he killed a 4-year-old boy with a rock, will soon be released from prison.

Smith, now 41, appeared before the New York State Board of Parole Oct. 5 and was granted release after 27 year behind bars. He is currently housed at the medium-security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in the Catskills and could be released as early as Nov. 17.

The murder of Derrick Robie, conviction, and apology

On Aug. 2, 1993, Smith was riding his bike in the village of Savona, New York, and saw 4-year-old Derrick Robie walking alone. Smith lured the boy into a wooded area, where he strangled him and dropped a large rock on his head. Derrick’s body was found four hours later.

Smith, who was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, a condition that causes unpredictable violent outbursts, confessed to his mother on Aug. 8, 1993.

On Aug. 16, 1994, Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and ordered to serve nine years to life in prison. He would later apologize to Robie’s family.

“I know my actions have caused a terrible loss in the Robie family, and for that, I am truly sorry,” Smith wrote in a letter he read on public television.

“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. 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.”

Smith appeared before the parole board a total of 11 times, telling the panel he’d been bullied as a child and took his anger out on Derrick Robie. At each hearing, Dale and Doreen Robie asked the board to keep their son’s killer locked up. They declined to comment on the board’s latest decision.