What are the differences between Eric Smith and Lionel Tate's cases, who were charged as adults?be specific

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question. I watched a "48 Hours" episode about Eric Smith not too long ago.

Eric Smith was convicted of murdering four-year-old Derrick Robie when Eric was only thirteen years old. Derrick was walking to a nearby day camp when Smith lured him into the woods and strangled him and beat him to death with large rocks and sexually molested him. Smith helped with the investigation, but he eventually admitted to the crime.

Lionel Tate was eleven years old when he killed six-year-old Tiffany Eunick. Like Smith, he was convicted and given a life sentence. The difference between the two killings is that apparently Tate accidentally killed Tiffany. Tate was a large child (166 pounds at eleven). He had been left to babysit Tiffany, and he was playing a make-believe wrestling game with her. He either jumped on her or stomped her so hard that her liver was lacerated, killing her. She also had a fractured skull and broken ribs.

Prosecutors offered his attorney a plea deal for second-degree murder, but it was not accepted. Several years later, however, because of Tate's age, the state offered the plea deal again, and Tate did accept it. He was set free from prison. Unfortunately, is back in prison now on a charge of armed robbery.

So, the big difference between the two killers seems to be motivation: Smith chose to kill; Tate didn't realize that his game was so deadly.