Because she wasn’t eating her pancakes fast enough.
A former winner of “Worst Cooks in America” has been found guilty of beating her foster daughter to death.
Ariel Robinson, 30, was found guilty of murdering 3-year-old Victoria “Tori” Smith five days before she was set to legally adopt her.
Robinson, who won season 20 of the popular Food Network show in 2020, had custody of Tori and her two older brothers for 10 months leading up to the child’s death on January 14, 2021.
That day, Ariel’s husband called 911 around 2:15 PM to report their foster daughter was unresponsive at their Simpsonville home, telling dispatchers she had “drank a lot of water. We tried to do CPR to get it out,” the court heard.
When first responders arrived, they noticed excessive bruising on the child’s abdomen, ear, back and legs; Ariel claimed she had bruised the abdomen performing the Heimlich maneuver because she thought she was choking. The rest of the bruising she blamed on Tori’s 7-year-old brother, who she said had anger issues and was a liar.
A coroner later ruled Tori had died of multiple blunt force trauma. Assistant Solicitor Christy Sustakovitch told the court during last month’s trial the child had bled out inside her own legs, The Greenville News reported.
Jerry Robinson later contacted police voluntarily and told them what really happened.
He said his wife got angry at Tori because she had thrown up on herself on the way to church on the night of January 13; the following day she had flipped out on the child because she wasn’t eating her pancakes fast enough.
Jerry said he could hear the “whooping” from outside the house, and Tori screaming. He came in to find his wife standing over the child with a belt in her hand, and telling her “You’re not done. You don’t get to tell me when you’re done.”
“I told her you went too far this time and I should’ve stopped it,” Jerry said during the hearing.
He called 911 hours later, but by the time first responders arrived, the little girl was in cardiac arrest. So much blood had pooled inside her legs that her brain was starved of it.
Jerry admitted that Tori’s brother had nothing to do with the injuries, as the older children were all in school.
After a 90-minute deliberation on Thursday, the jury found Ariel Robinson guilty of homicide by child abuse.
“I think medical testimony in this case was incredibly heartbreaking,” Judge Letitia H. Verdin told the mother, “and for folks who deal in the emergency room and who serve us in that way, folks who deal with children in the most critical of situations — for them to say that this was substantially worse than anything they had seen, I think that has to put something into perspective for you.”
“I can say that in my 13, 14 years of being a judge, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never seen anything like this. Not even approaching it,” she added.
The judge said she understood the defense attorney’s argument, that “perhaps she snapped in that moment.”
“But then why let this child suffer and not get her medical attention that she desperately needed as she lay dying in her own bedroom?”
The judge concluded: “Based upon all of that, the sentence of the court cannot be anything but life in prison.”
At last month’s hearing, Jerry Robinson pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse/aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse.
His attorney asked the judge to take his cooperation into account when sentencing, which has not yet been decided. He faces 10 to 20 years minimum in prison.
As “Worst Cooks in America” champ, Ariel won $25k; however all footage of the entire season was pulled from all platforms after she was arrested and charged.