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Boy, 14, Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Killing Child

November 08, 1994|From Times Wire Services

BATH, N.Y. — Heeding a heartbroken father's plea, a judge sentenced a 14-year-old boy Monday to nine years to life in prison--the maximum possible--for luring a 4-year-old boy into the woods and crushing his skull with a rock.

The killer, Eric Smith, cast his eyes downward but showed no emotion.

Eric, 13 at the time of the slaying, was tried on the murder charge as an adult. He had confessed in 1993 to leading Derrick Robie on a supposed shortcut to a day camp they attended in the western New York village of Savona. In an overgrown lot, Eric choked the boy and bashed his head with a 26-pound rock. He then sodomized the body with a stick.

"When Derrick came into this world I cried and when Derrick left this world I cried," Dale Robie, his voice trembling, said in asking the court for the maximum sentence. "I have felt the whole realm of loving and losing."

"I pray that this person will never have the opportunity to take the life of another child," Robie told the court.

The defense had argued unsuccessfully that Eric suffers from "intermittent explosive disorder," characterized by uncontrollable violent impulses.

His lawyer, Kevin Bradley, Monday described his young client as "a sick boy in need of treatment." Eric will serve at least the first part of his sentence at a lockup for juveniles; he could be transferred to prison at 18.

Eric could be free by age 22 and "back among us at some point in his 20s," prosecutor John Tunney said.

Residents of the rural community at first believed that a stranger was responsible for the murder until a relative of Eric Smith found inconsistencies in his recollection of events and brought him to the attention of investigators.

Under state law, a child as young as 13 can be tried as an adult for murder but faces a more lenient sentence. An adult convicted of murder can get 25 years to life.

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