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Special Report: Derrick Robie’s Family Speaks Out - Part 1
SAVONA -- Nearly 19 years ago, four year old Derrick Robie was brutally murdered by 13 year old Eric Smith in their small town of Savona.
Smith is currently in prison at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, and up for parole a fifth time this week. And his victim's parents and brother are doing everything they can to keep Derrick's killer in prison.
Dalton Robie wasn't even two years old when his brother Derrick was brutally murdered. But in the short time they had together, he knows his big brother was always there for him.
"I just remember him always watching over me, making sure i didn't get in trouble, just always caring for me," Dalton says.
A little boy full of energy, Derrick loved animals, and playing practical jokes.
"He knew that the older ladies would be walking to church, so he took his rubber snake out and laid it on the sidewalk and watched out the window as people walked up the sidewalk," his mother Dori explains with a smile. She also recalls the time Derrick caught praying mantises with his grandmother; they put them in a plastic container and poked holes in it so the insects could breathe. The next morning, Dori woke to Derrick using a broomstick to poke holes in their screen porch; he was concerned and wanted to make sure their golden retreiver had enough air.
Derrick was just shy of starting kindergarten and turning five years old when he was brutally murdered by 13 year old Eric Smith. On August 2nd, 1993, Derrick was walking to a day camp just up the street from his home.Smith was riding up the street on his bicycle; he lured Derrick into a nearby field, and killed him.
"Then of course as more details came out, it was kind of hard to fathom what he did, how he led people away, how he drove by Derrick on his bike, turned around, saw the other kids going into the park, and then he came back and approached Derrick I mean, it was calculated." Derrick's father Dale Robie explains. Dale and Dori say Smith targeted their son.
Smith was convicted of second degree murder in 1994, and sentenced to nine years to life in prison. Now, he's 32 years old, and up for parole a fifth time - an opportunity he gets every two years. Dale and Dori say it's their mission to make sure he stays behind bars.
"It's very important to do what we can, and it's all we can do for Derrick," Dale says.
Dalton, Dori, Dale and members of the community submitted more than 100 letters to the parole board, fighting to keep Smith behind bars; concerned he might someday hurt someone else.
"If I didn't do that, if I didn't fight every two years, and he was released and then he did something to somebody else i would never forgive myself," Dori said.
Dale also makes a video for the parole board; a montage of home videos chronicling Derrick's short life.
"To show the impact, and this year I showed more pictures of him with Dalton, more of the family aspect, big brother, you know, what Dalton's missing out on, how Derrick took care of him, how caring he was," says Dale.
Even though Derrick's time with Dalton's was cut too short, he says there are lessons to be learned from Derrick's life.
"He enjoyed life. he lived it to the fullest he could, and it shows we all need to do that," Dalton said.
Smith took away Dalton's big brother, his protector - the person who would have been Dalton's best man at his upcoming wedding. In his letter to the parole board, Dalton asks questions about what his life would be like if Derrick were here today.
"Where would he be? what would we be doing? You know, the nights i could be sitting on the porch, talking to him about my day. I lost my best friend." Dalton said.
But Dalton knows his big brother would still be looking out for him.
"It feels good knowing he's always there, I think he's still, he's always there."