SAVONA, N.Y. (WIVB) - It is a brutal murder case that shocked western New York, now ateenaged killer is speaking out.
Eric Smith was barely a teenager when he savagely murdered afour-year-old neighbor.
Smith says in a jailhouse interview, that was then, this isnow. That now being, he is a man who has learned a lesson from 16years behind bars.
Eric Smith was just 13 years old when he strangled and beatlittle four-year-old Derrick Robie to death, in the small SteubenCounty village of Savona, more than 16 years ago.
Smith said, "You can label me a monster, a cold-blooded killer,demon child, Satan incarnate--I don't care what name you give me,it doesn't mean that is who I am."
Eric Smith is now 29 years old, and serving a life sentence atthe Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.
Smith afforded News 4's sister station in Elmira his firstinterview, since his conviction for second degree murder in August,1994.
Although he did read a prepared statement for a CBS Newsspecial report in 2004.
Smith said, "I know my actions have caused a terrible loss inthe Robie family, and for that I am truly sorry."
Can the victim's family foresee the day where she doesn't carewhether they let him out or not?
Derrick Robie's mother says, "No, we will take this pain to ourgrave."
Robie's father said, "Some people have said, we need to forgive,but I can't yet."
Why did he do it? What could possibly drive a 13-year-old childto savage a four-year-old like Smith did to Derrick Robie?
Eric Smith says he was bullied, red haired, freckle-faced kidwith thick glasses and turned down ears.
Smith said, "Coming home every day from school and being pickedon, getting hit in the head with a book, spit wads, being trippedon the bus."
Smith turned his great grandmother for emotional support, butwhen she died in 1989, he said it was all downhill.
His pent up anger finally erupted, violently when Smith luredDerrick into a wooded area adjacent to the summer camp the two wereattending.
The brutality far exceeded Smith's 13 years.
Smith has spent his years behind bars preparing for thepossibility of freedom.
Smith said, "To go out into society, and help the individualsthat were like me, that were picked on and bullied, and that aregoing through school, dealing with emotional issues."
Eric Smith comes up for parole in May.
Smith's supporters claim he has been a model prisoner, havingearned an electrician's certificate, a carpenter's certificate, andhas mastered tailoring.
But the Parole Board has already turned Smith down fourtimes.
How have things changed in Savona over the years?
Villagers in Savona eventually bulldozed the camp site whereDerrick Robie was murdered, and turned into a baseball fielddedicated to Derrick's memory.
News 4 should also credit Elmira's CBS affiliate, WENY forthat interview, for more click these links:
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