The former winner of the Food Network show “Worst Cooks in America” was convicted of child abuse homicide and sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
Ariel Robinson, 30, of Greenville, South Carolina, was found guilty after jurors deliberated for an hour and a half following a four-day trial.
Robinson and her husband Jerry, 35, were arrested in 2021 after the death of their three-year-old adopted daughter, Victoria Rose Smith. In April, Jared pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a child abuse homicide.
Police found Victoria unresponsive after responding to a 9-11 call to the Robinsons’ home on January 14, 2021. Robinson claimed at the time that the toddler “became limp” after ingesting excess liquid and that she thought the girl had choked.
Ariel Robinson, 30, was convicted of child abuse homicide in South Carolina on Thursday
Robinson (left) was sentenced to life in prison for beating her three-year-old adopted child, Victoria Smith (right), to death in 2021
Asked about other bruises found all over the toddler’s body, Ariel allegedly blamed Victoria’s brother, who the Robinsons also encouraged and claimed to have ‘anger issues’.
Prosecutors argued that Robinson had in fact fatally beaten Victoria that night.
Greenville County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ward said Wednesday the child was beaten so badly that her blood vessels burst. He said the blood that then pooled in her muscles and body fat may have killed her.
“If we lose enough blood, the heart doesn’t have enough volume to pump,” Ward said.
Jerry Robinson later told authorities the fatal blows were repelled by an incident the day before when Victoria threw up on the way to church and angered Ariel.
Ariel (left) and her husband Jared Robinson (right). Jerry pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a child abuse homicide in April
The Robinsons were arrested in 2021 when authorities responding to a 911 call to their home in South Carolina found Victoria (above) unresponsive. The moment Ariel said the girl choked
Two witnesses, Jean Smith and Avery Santiago, said on Wednesday they saw Ariel washing Victoria’s dress in the church toilets that day. Asking if the child was ill, Robinson told Smith ‘[The girl] eats too much and makes himself vomit. [It’] a game.’
Santiago testified that she heard Ariel say to Victoria “Oh, you’re cold”. You are cold. Girls who get puked deserve to be cold,’ FOX Carolina reported.
“I was frustrated,” Ariel said Thursday when asked about the incident at the church.
It wasn’t the first time Ariel had gotten mad at Victoria’s eating habits, according to Jerry, who testified that his wife beat the child with a wooden paddle or a belt.
Ariel Robinson (left) in court for the murder of Victoria Smith. His trial lasted four days
The jurors deliberated for an hour and a half before finding Robinson guilty. Experts testified that Victoria was beaten so badly that her blood vessels burst and blood filled her muscles.
“Sometimes I would take a piece of [her] food just to help her,” he testified.
Ariel cried while talking about Victoria on the stand on Thursday, describing her as “a perfect child”.
“We had a good relationship,” Ariel said, according to FOX Carolina’s Maya Ruiz‘She was my mini-me.’
Ruiz reported that Robinson said “he was lying” when asked about her husband’s statements.
Prior to her homicide arrest, Ariel was known to have won season 20 of the Food Network show ‘Worst Cooks in America’ in 2020, and receiving a cash prize of $25,000.
Ariel Robinson won a grand prize of $25,000 after appearing on the Food Network show ‘Worst Cooks’ in America in 2020
She and her husband Jerry have two children of their own and began fostering Victoria and her two brothers, aged five and seven, in 2020.
Victoria’s biological great-aunt, Michelle Urps, blames social workers for not paying due attention to the situation.
She says she noticed possible bruises and marks on Victoria’s body in photos Ariel had uploaded to social media.
“I knew something was wrong by looking at his social media, so why couldn’t they?” Urps told DailyMail.com last year.
‘You have to ask yourself, do these social workers have the right training? Is the selection process adequate? Are they looking in the right places? she says.
Urps started a petition on the Change.org website calling on state lawmakers to pass a bill called “Victoria Law” that would reform South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. The petition currently has nearly 46,000 signatures.