SAVONA, N.Y. (WETM) — As part of his October 2021 parole hearing, Eric Smith told parole board members he was engaged almost two years ago, and he briefly discussed his future with his fiancee. His betrothal came up while the parole board was asking about where Smith will live upon his release.
He said he would likely stay with his mother until he could get his own apartment or house or until his fiancee “gets up here.” He didn’t specify where, specifically, he plans to live, and it’s unknown if his mother, Tammy Smith, still lives in Steuben County.
Smith said he was engaged in December 2019, but he met the woman at least two years before that. According to him, his fiancee was studying to be a lawyer, and she contacted Smith to ask him about the juvenile justice system. She was doing research to compare the juvenile justice systems in North and South America. “I answered all her questions,” Smith said, “and I started to get to know her, we became friends, and then we developed a liking for one another.”
He went on to say that while they wrote to each other, she was in a relationship, so Smith stopped talking to her. “I didn’t feel that my falling in love with her when I felt she was falling in love with me was really healthy being that she was already in a relationship,” he said. “I didn’t like the idea of me ruining a relationship.”
Later, in 2017, Smith said his sister asked him if he knew this woman. “Yeah,” he responded, “how do you know her?” His sister told him they were friends on Facebook, so Smith and her reconnected, picking up where they left off, as Smith described it.
The transcript does not mention his fiancee’s name, residence, or if she is still a law student or lawyer. Smith said they fell in love, and when he asked her to marry him and she said yes, “I was possibly, in that moment, the happiest man alive.”
He said later that opening up to his fiancee was difficult, adding that she got upset with him for not being forthright about everything he’d done. “She kept saying, ‘I love you, talk to me’,” but Smith said he was scared that she would leave if he opened up to her.
“I literally went to God in prayer and said, Lord, you brought her into my life so if you brought her there you’ve already seen this conversation happening, so just give me the grace to tell her.” The conversation went well, Smith said. “When I told her she actually opened up and told me about some of her own and it was able to help me understand the shame, the guilt, and the level of personal angst.”
The transcript doesn’t specify what Smith means by “some of her own.”
Smith was scheduled to be released on November 17, but as of that morning, he did not have an approved residence. DOCCS said he will remain in prison until an address is approved.