Albany, N.Y., May 4—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) today joined legislative colleagues and family members of murder victims, including the parents of Derrick Robie of Savona (Steuben County), to call for the approval of legislation they co-sponsor that would allow the state Parole Board to extend the time period that murderers and other violent felony offenders have to wait to apply for a parole hearing.Currently, the state Parole Board is required to allow inmates to request a parole hearing every two years. Under the legislation (S.1483-A/A.1680-A) O’Mara and Palmesano are co-sponsoring, the Parole Board would be allowed to extend the time period between parole hearings from two to five years for offenders convicted of any of the following categories of violent felony offenses: Class A-1 felonies of murder in the first or second degrees where a sentence other than life imprisonment without parole is imposed, and Class A-II felonies of predatory sexual assault and predatory sexual assault against a child. The board would still be given the option to permit an earlier hearing.
Dale and Dori Robie said, "We are in total support of this important legislation and appreciate the efforts being made by state legislators to have it become law. We are committed to working with them to secure its enactment in Derrick's memory and so that other families like ours, whose lives have been forever changed by a violent criminal, do not have to relive their ordeal every two years."Robie was four years old in August 1993 when he was killed by Eric Smith, then 13, in a wooded area near Robie’s home in Savona. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to nine years to life in prison. He’s currently incarcerated at the maximum-security Collins Correctional Facility outside Buffalo.
Smith first became eligible for parole in 2002 and has been denied parole eight times, the last denial coming just several weeks ago in early April. Under current law, he’s eligible for another parole hearing in April 2018.
The legislation to extend the parole hearing time frame is currently in the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee in both the Senate and Assembly. It must be approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo before becoming law.