Worst Cooks in America contestant and winner Ariel Robinson was found guilty of child abuse and the death of her foster child Victoria “Tori” Smith.
E! News reports, “On May 12, the former Food Network contestant, 30, was found guilty of homicide by child abuse by a jury in Greenville County, South Carolina. According to local NBC affiliate outlet WYFF, she was convicted of the charge after less than an hour-and-a-half of deliberation, which came after a four-day trial.”
Her husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson, pled guilty to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse. It carries a 10-20 years sentence.
In January 2021, South Carolina police received an anonymous tip about an unresponsive child. When the child was transported to the hospital, they were pronounced dead. It was revealed that the child was Smith, and she died from force injuries.
Judge Letitia Verdin says, “I think medical testimony, in this case, was incredibly heartbreaking. In my 13, 14 years as a judge, I’ve never seen anything like this, not even approaching it.”
Jerry witnessed Ariel “beating Tori to death.” He walked in and told her she “went too far this time.”
E! News reports, “Ariel took the stand in her own defense, appearing to blame her husband for the death, stating that he has some of the ‘scariest types of anger issues.'” However, prosecutors countered the argument and revealed evidence suggesting that Ariel was the one to beat the child.
After the verdict, Jerry’s attorney, Lucas C. Marchant, shared a statement.
“Mr. Robinson is extremely remorseful for what happened to Tori,” the statement read. “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.”
Ariel won season 20 of Worst Cooks of America. NBC has removed all episodes of her season’s competition.