A former Food Network contestant was found guilty of murdering the three-year-old girl she was just days away from officially adopting and sentenced to life in prison.
Ariel Robinson, Season 20 winner of Worst Cooks in America, was convicted in the January 2021 beating death of Victoria "Tori" Rose Smith, the foster child Robinson and her husband, Jerry Robinson, were in the process of adopting.
During the four-day trial, Greenville, South Carolina Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ward testified that the child was beaten so badly that her blood vessels had burst. Graphic images of the homicide were shown in court.
"In my 13-14 years as a judge, I've never seen anything like this," Judge Letitia Verdin said during Ariel Robinson's sentencing, The Sun News reported. "Not even approaching it."
Jurors took an estimated 90 minutes on Thursday (May 12) to deliberate the charges and reach their decision against 30-year-old Ariel Robinson. Jerry Robinson has not yet been sentenced, but pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting child abuse and faces a minimum of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Jerry testified that he walked in to find his wife holding a belt and that she had beat Victoria out of frustration from an incident that happened the day before in which the three-year-old threw up on herself on the way to church. The following morning, Jerry Robinson testified that Ariel was frustrated that Victoria wasn't eating her pancakes fast enough, at which point Ariel whooped the girl to the point where Jerry could hear it outside the home.
"I told her, 'You went too far this time and I should have stopped it,'" Jerry said in court.
Jerry later called 911 where he told emergency personnel, "We have an emergency, our daughter is unresponsive. She drank a lot of water. We tried to do CPR to get it out," Greenville News reported.
Police arrived and questioned the bruising on the girl's body, which Ariel reportedly blamed on her two brothers, whom the couple was also fostering.
Victoria's biological aunt launched a Change.org petition to get South Carolina lawmakers to pass "Victoria's Law" that would reform the state Department of Social Services.
Reading about trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.