Photo: Simpsonville Police Department/Courtesy
A South Carolina jury has found Ariel Robinson, a Food Network contestant, guilty of child abuse homicide for killing her adopted daughter at her home.informed the authorities.
The 30-year-old woman and her husband Jerry “Austin” Robinson, 35, were arrested and charged with child abuse homicide in January 2021 following the death of their 3-year-old adopted daughter, Victoria “Tori” Rose. Smith, according to Greenville County records. Auston pleaded guilty last month to aiding and abetting murder for child abuse.
The jury argued for about an hour and a half before reaching a verdict after four days of trial. Robinson was sentenced to life in prison, according to FOX Carolina.
On the other hand, The Greenville County coroner’s office said last year the girl died of blunt force injuries.according to the autopsy.
The accused took the stand to testify and cried when asked what it was like to live with the girl. The winner of season 20 of “America’s Worst Cooks,” she described Smith as a “perfect girl” who was easy to get along with, according to the outlet.
Prosecutors alleged that the couple fatally beat the minor on Jan. 14, 2021, when authorities found her unconscious in her home.
Also, the county chief medical examiner, Dr. Michael Ward, a forensic pathologist, stated that the girl was beaten so hard that her blood vessels burst, causing blood to pool in her muscles and fat, which could have led to her losing her life.The Post reported.
“If we lose enough blood, the heart doesn’t have enough volume to pump,” he said.
Jerry “Austin” Robinson previously told police the fatal beating took place on Jan. 13, 2021, when the girl threw up on her way to a church service and Ariel was furious with Smith.
Jean Smith and Avery Santiago, both eyewitnesses, testified that they saw the defendant and the naked girl in the church bathroom while Ariel tried to clean the minor’s dress in the sink. Smith said she asked the foster mother if Victoria was sick and the woman allegedly said the girl “eats too much and makes herself throw up,” calling it “a game.”
Santiago said he heard Ariel tell the girl the following, “Oh, you’re cold. You are cold. Girls who make themselves throw up deserve to be cold,” according to Fox Carolina.
When asked about the incident at the church, Ariel said she “was frustrated.”
Austin, who also testified as a witness, said Ariel would get angry at Smith’s eating habits and hit her with belts or a wooden paddle.
“Sometimes I would take a piece of (her) food just to help her,” the 35-year-old testified.
Ariel, a former teacher, won a $25,000 prize by winning the Food Network competition, which pits amateur cooks against each other in various cooking challenges overseen by big-name chefs, according to Deadline. Her season episodes are no longer available.
A Change.org petition with nearly 46,000 signatures asks South Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill called the Victoria Act, which would reform “the current screening process to become not just a foster parent, but a a foster parent.”
“We want there to be frequent, unscheduled home visits to adoptive and foster parents and even after adoptions are finalized,” the petition description says. “We want Guardians Ad Litem and social workers [sic] talk privately with the children in homes so they have a chance to ask for help if they need it.”
In a Twitter thread posted on Jan. 6, Robinson said that both her black and white children were treated the same way at home, “it won’t be the case” when they go out into the real world.
“It is a shame that as a proud mother of 4 beautiful children, I cannot protect them from the reality and evil of this world once they leave home. 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 continued.
“I am a mama bear, and I will do anything to protect my children and make sure their futures are just as bright. [porque] they have the same opportunities and are treated as equals the way God created them. There should be no #white privilege, only American privilege. #EqualityforAll #BlackLivesMatte[r]”.