GREENVILLE, SC ( Associated Press) – The winner of a Food Network cooking show contest has been found guilty of beating a 3-year-old foster child in her care to death last year.
The jury deliberated for nearly an hour before delivering a unanimous verdict Thursday against 30-year-old Ariel Robinson of Simpsonville, news outlets reported.
She did not comment before Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced her to life imprisonment for murder by child abuse.
“In my 13-14 years as a judge, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Verdin said. “It’s not even coming near it.”
Verdin acknowledged Robinson’s lawyer’s statement that his client was snarky but asked, “Why let this child suffer?”
Victoria “Tori” Smith died on January 14, 2021 at Robinson’s home after injuring her legs and stomach because she didn’t eat her pancakes quickly enough. Officials said the child died of blunt force injuries and internal bleeding.
Robinson was the winner of season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network.
The child’s biological family cried and hugged each other after the court’s dismissal. “Praise God,” said the child’s biological great-grandmother, Vicki Fares. “Justice has been done for our child.”
Robinson and her husband, Austin Robinson, had custody of the little girl and her two older biological brothers for 10 months and were scheduled for adoption a week after Victoria’s death.
Austin Robinson pleaded guilty last month to abetting and abetting the murder by child abuse. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The sentencing date has not been set.
He testified that his wife beat the child with a belt. Medical evidence showed that she died when blood pooled in her body and could not reach her brain.