"Worst Cooks of America" winner Ariel Robinson has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty in the death of her 3-year-old foster child, Victoria "Tori" Smith.
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.
Robinson's husband, Jerry "Austin" Robinson, pled guilty last month to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse, which carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years. He is currently awaiting his sentencing.
In January 2021, according to local TV affiliate FOX Carolina, police in Simpsonville, South Carolina received a call about an unresponsive child, who was later pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital. Per the outlet, the local coroner identified her to be Smith and determined the cause of her death to be multiple blunt force injuries.
"I think medical testimony in this case was incredibly heartbreaking," Judge Letitia Verdin said during sentencing, per WYFF. "In my 13, 14 years as a judge, I've never seen anything like this, not even approaching it."
In an April hearing, Ariel's husband, Jerry, accused his wife of "beating Tori to death" because she was frustrated with her. 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, 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." Per WYFF, prosecutors countered the claim by saying evidence showed Ariel was the one who beat Smith and not her husband.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Following the verdict, Jerry's attorney, Lucas C. Marchant, shared a statement to E! News.
"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." E! News has reached out Ariel's attorney for comment and has not heard back.
The former reality show participant won as a contestant on Season 20 of Food Network's "Worst Cooks in America," which aired in 2020. When news of her arrest broke in 2021, the network removed the episodes of her competition from all platforms.
(NBC and E! are part of the NBCUniversal family.)