[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A ruling has been made in the murder case against Ariel Robinson (left), season 20 winner of Food Network‘s Worst Cooks in America. On Thursday, the woman was found guilty of homicide by child abuse in the beating death of a 3-year-old foster daughter she was in the process of adopting.
According to local outlet WYFF, it took a Greenville County, South Carolina jury just an hour-and-a-half to deliberate and reach their final conviction after a four-day trial, during which graphic images of the injuries inflicted on the little girl, Victoria “Tori” Smith, were shown. Deadline reported that Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced the 30-year-old to life in prison.
After Ariel’s sentencing, the judge remarked via The Sun News,
“In my 13-14 years as a judge, I’ve never seen anything like this. Not even approaching it.”
During the trial, Ariel’s husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson (right), testified, giving a lot of insight into what happened to cause Tori’s death. He has also been arrested for homicide by child abuse/aiding and abetting, per FOXCarolina, but has not been sentenced yet. He has pleaded guilty to his role in the death of the little girl and faces a minimum of 10 to 20 years behind bars.
As Perezcious readers may remember, Ariel and Jerry were first arrested on January 19, 2021 in connection to Tori’s death on January 14. Shockingly, they were actually in the process of adopting the child and her brothers, according to authorities. In fact, the adoption was set to be finalized just days after she was killed, per The State.
During an April hearing, Jerry testified that he was outside their home when he heard a commotion inside. He walked into his home to find his wife was beating Tori with a belt out of frustration, reported WYFF. He said (via Greenville News):
“By the time I walked inside, it was as if nothing was going on.”
He could already see bruising on his foster daughter, who was crying. He continued (likely referencing his wife):
“I told her, ‘You went too far this time and I should’ve stopped it.’”
He also claimed that the girl had thrown up on herself the day before while on the way to church. Already mad about that, Ariel’s frustration hit a breaking point the next morning when the child was not eating her pancakes fast enough. That’s when she began to give Tori a “whooping” that he could hear from outside.
Later, he eventually called 911 for help after the girl became unresponsive. Interestingly, according to Assistant Solicitor Christy Sustakovitch, when making that call for help, Jerry reportedly said:
“We have an emergency, our daughter is unresponsive. She drank a lot of water. We tried to do CPR to get it out.”
So, despite now revealing the truth, he was allegedly trying to cover up the abuse in the moment? Wow. It is unclear when his trial is set to take place.
A petition on Change.org was created following this tragedy calling for lawmakers to pass a bill called “Victoria’s Law” which would reform the South Carolina Department of Social Services. So far, it has nearly 46,000 signatures. Check it out HERE.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
[Image via Simpsonville Police Department]