A Buffalo woman who went to prison as a teenager is fighting now for early release.

Patrice Smith has served 21 years for murder but today had a new virtual “day in court.”

Smith was only 16 when she strangled Reverend Robert Robinson in his Hamlin Road home in December of 1998.

At her trial, there were brief references to a sexual relationship between the two. Five years later, she appealed her 25 years to life maximum sentence.

According to Appellate Court papers, “defendant sought to establish that she was under an extreme emotional disturbance because of a sexual relationship with the deceased over a period of months and his sexual advances on the night of the killing.”

The court papers go on to say, “defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her felony murder conviction is without merit,” according to the court in 2004.

Her chances of getting a reduced sentence now are helped by a NY State Law passed last year. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act is meant to offer more meaningful sentence reductions for domestic abuse survivors. 

That’s why a Brooklyn attorney was granted today’s re-sentence hearing.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is fighting an early release, telling us, “I strongly support the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. However, the gruesome facts of this particular murder do not warrant the relief set forth in this law, and therefore I opposed the petitioner’s motion that was argued in court.”

Rev. Robert Robinson was Pastor of the Soul Saving Revival Center on Fillmore, where his son still preaches every week. Robert Robinson Jr. was unavailable for comment today.

There’s no indication when Judge DiTullio may rule on whether Patrice Smith gets out of prison earlier. For now, her earliest possible release from Albion Correctional Facility is three and a half years from now.