Monday, May 2, 2016

Steuben County case fuels efforts to change parole hearings

Albany, N.Y., May 2—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,I,C-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,I,C-Corning) will join legislative colleagues and family members of murder victims, including the family of Derrick Robie of Savona (Steuben County), at a news conference in Albany on Wednesday, May 4, to call for the approval of legislation they co-sponsor to authorize 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.

Wednesday’s news conference is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in Room 130 of the Legislative Office Building in Albany. Robie was four years old in August 1993 when he was murdered by Eric Smith, 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.
Under the legislation O’Mara and Palmesano are co-sponsoring (S.1483-A/A.1680-A), Smith and certain other violent felony offenders, at the discretion of the Parole Board, could be required to wait five years, instead of the current two years, between parole hearings.  Sponsors and supporters of the legislation believe this longer time frame will help spare the families of victims from having to repeatedly face the emotional anguish of a parole hearing.  The legislation is sponsored by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr (I,D,WF-Sag Harbor).