Ariel Robinson, a former Food Network star and the winner of Worst Cooks in America, was found guilty on Thursday of homicide by child abuse in the death of her three-year-old foster daughter, Victoria “Tori” Smith.
According to a local NBC affiliate, the verdict came down after barely an hour-and-a-half of deliberation… which followed a four-day long trial.
Robinson was then sentenced to life in prison.
Last month, Robinson’s husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson, pleaded guilty aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse, a chage that carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years behind bars.
He is currently awaiting his sentencing.
We first reported on Robinson in January 2021.
Around that time, police in Simpsonville, South Carolina received a call about an unresponsive toddler, who was later pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital.
The coroner eventually identified the victim as Smith, determining the cause of her death to be multiple blunt force injuries.
Greenville County senior deputy coroner Kent Dill, meanwhile, said back then that the little girl was a foster child living at the Robinson residence, while Ari implied on Instagram a few months earlier that she had adopted Victoria.
“This Christmas, my family was given the best news ever!! We are growing our family by 3!!!” wrote Robinson on Christmas Day 2020 via Instagram, adding:
“We can’t wait for this next adventure in life and to make new memories, laughs, and love as a family of 7!!”
Robinson, a former middle school teacher, took home a $25,000 prize package for winning Worst Cooks in America in August 2020.
“I wanted to win this so much for [my family], to give them a better life and things they never even imagined,” she said on the Season 20 finale. “This is going to change our lives forever.”
Just two weeks before Smith died, meanwhile, Robinson posted a YouTube video that prominently featured the child.
In an April hearing, Ariel’s husband, accused his wife of “beating Tori to death” because she was frustrated with the three-year old.
During his testimony, he said he walked in to see her holding a belt, saying that he recalled telling her that she went “too far this time.”
Hours before the jury read the verdict in her case, Robinson took the stand in her own defense… appearing to blame her spouse for the tragedy by stating that he has some of the “scariest types of anger issues.”
Prosecutors countered the claim by saying evidence showed Ariel was the one responsible for the assault against Smith.
“Mr. Robinson is extremely remorseful for what happened to Tori,” read a statement by Jerry’s after Ariel was found guilty.
“He loved her very dearly and he knows that he failed her as her father.
“He has accepted responsibility for his actions, or rather inactions in this tragic situation.
“Following this horrific event, he has fully cooperated with law enforcement and the prosecution to bring closure to this case.”
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