Jury finds Food Network star guilty in death of foster child

The winner of a Food Network cooking show competition was convicted of beating to death a 3-year-old foster child in her care last year.

The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning a unanimous verdict Thursday against Ariel Robinson, 30, of Simpsonville, news outlets reported. She did not comment before Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced her to life in prison on a child abuse homicide charge.

“In my 13 or 14 years as a judge, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Verdin said. “I didn’t even get close.”

Verdin acknowledged Robinson’s attorney’s statement that his client was broken, but asked, “Why let this child suffer?”

Victoria “Tori” Smith died on January 14, 2021 at the Robinson home after sustaining blows to her legs and abdomen because she did not eat her pancakes fast enough. The girl died of blunt force injuries and internal bleeding, authorities said.

Robinson was the winner of the 20th season of “America’s Worst Cooks” on the Food Network.

The boy’s biological family cried and hugged each other after the court dismissed.

“Praise God,” said Vickie Phares, the boy’s biological great-grandmother. “Justice was done for our baby.”

Robinson and her husband, Austin Robinson, had custody of the girl and her two older biological siblings for 10 months and were scheduled to adopt them the week after Victoria’s death.

Austin Robinson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting child abuse homicide last month. He faces up to 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

He stated that his wife hit the child with a belt. Medical evidence showed that he died when blood pooled in his body and could not reach his brain.

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