Winner of popular Food Network show sentenced to life in prison for beating 3-year-old to death

(Video Credit: WYFF News 4)

Ariel Robinson, who was a Food Network winner on “Worst Cooks in America,” was quickly found guilty by a jury on Thursday of beating her three-year-old foster daughter, Victoria Rose Smith, to death in 2021 and sentenced to life in prison for killing the child.

Robinson is from Greenville, South Carolina. The jurors only deliberated for an hour and a half before rendering the verdict following a four-day trial.

She was arrested with her husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson, following the death of the toddler. In April, he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse. As Ariel Robinson was accused of beating the child to death, she blamed her husband and called him a liar.

Police found Victoria unresponsive after responding to a 911 call at the Robinson’s home on January 14, 2021. The mother claimed that the toddler “went limp” after drinking too much liquid and that she thought the girl had choked. According to the coroner’s office, the little girl died as a result of blunt force injuries.

Ariel (left) and her husband Jared Robinson (right)

When she was asked about bruises found all over the child’s body, Ariel reportedly blamed Victoria’s brother, who the Robinsons also fostered, claiming he had “anger issues.”

Ariel Robinson testified Thursday and wept when she was asked what it was like to live with the child. The “Worst Cooks in America” season 20 winner said that “Tori” was “a perfect child” who was easy to get along with according to the New York Post.

Greenville County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ward, a forensic pathologist, testified on Wednesday that Victoria was beaten with so much force that her blood vessels burst, allowing blood to collect in her muscles and fat, which potentially led to her death according to FOX Carolina.

“If we lose enough blood, the heart doesn’t have enough volume to pump,” he noted.

Victoria Rose Smith

The husband previously told authorities that the fatal beating occurred in connection to the child throwing up on the way to a church service on Jan. 13, 2021. Robinson’s frustration reportedly spiraled out of control the next morning when the girl did not eat her pancakes fast enough, according to the husband. Then he said she gave the child a “whooping” that he could hear from outside of the home, People reported.

Jean Smith and Avery Santiago, who were witnesses at the trial, testified on Wednesday that they saw Robinson and an undressed Smith in the church bathroom as the foster mother attempted to clean the girl’s dress in a sink. When asked if the child was sick, Robinson replied that the child “eats too much and makes herself throw up,” calling it “a game.”

“‘Oh, you’re cold. You’re cold. Girls that make themselves throw up deserve to be cold,’” Robinson told Smith according to Santiago.

“I was frustrated,” Ariel asserted on Thursday when she was asked about the church incident.

The husband testified on Tuesday that Robinson would use a belt or a wooden paddle on the child when she became angry with the girl over her eating habits.

“Sometimes I’d take a piece of (her) food just to help her out,” he testified according to FOX Carolina.

Robinson is a former teacher. She won $25,000 during a Food Network amateur cooks competition that was overseen by celebrity chefs according to Deadline.

Ariel Robinson
Food Network

A petition, started by Victoria’s biological great aunt, Michelle Urps, has almost 46,000 signatures and is calling for South Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill called Victoria’s Law that will reform “the current screening process to become not only an adoptive parent but as a foster parent as well.”

“We want there to be frequent non-scheduled home visits to the foster and adoptive parents and even after adoptions are finalized,” the petition asserts. ”We want Guardian Ad Litem’s and case workers [sic] to talk privately with children in these homes so that they have the chance to ask for help if they need it.”

Previously in a Twitter thread, Robinson said that while her black and white children were treated the same in her home, that would “not be the case” when they go out into the real world.

“It’s a shame that as a proud mom to 4 beautiful boys, I can’t protect them from the reality and evil of this world once they leave the house. However, I will fight and use my voice to make a difference. To bring awareness and change so that one day, that change will come,” she proclaimed on social media. “I’m a Mama Bear, & I’ll do anything to protect my children & make sure their futures are equally bright [because] they have the same opportunities & are treated as equals the way God made them. There should be no #whiteprivilege only American privilege. #EqualityforAll #BlackLivesMatte[r].”

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