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Family of 3-year-old child abused by Food Network contestant Ariel Robinson speaks out after guilty verdict


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The family of a 3-year-old girl who was abused to death by her adoptive parents is grateful after a Greenville, Caroline from the souththe jury found suspect Ariel Robinson guilty of homicide by child abuse.

Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced Robinson to life in prison for the January 2021 death of Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith following the jury’s verdict after a four-day trial.

“It’s a huge relief that Victoria has finally gotten justice. Obviously we’re still devastated that she’s gone, but we’re very grateful that the police, the prosecution and the judge… did a wonderful job, and they did such a wonderful job that the jury could clearly see that she had committed this crime and that she is going to serve her life sentence for this,” Michelle Wooten Urps, Smith’s great-aunt, told Fox. News Digital about his family’s reaction to the verdict. .

Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith
(Michelle Wooten Urps/Justice for Victoria Rose Smith Facebook Page)

Robinson, 30, and her 35-year-old husband, Jerry “Austin” Robinson, were arrested and charged with child abuse homicide in January 2021 after Smith’s death, according to Greenville County records. Austin pleaded guilty last month to aiding and abetting a child abuse homicide and will serve between 10 and 20 years in prison, as reported by FOX Carolina.

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The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before returning a verdict after a four-day trial. Robinson was sentenced to life in prison, according to the outlet.

“Honestly, his testimony left me in great confusion,” Wooten Urps said of Robinson’s remarks in the witness box on Thursday. “She was obviously trying to deflect blame. … She never blamed anyone. She said it without saying it.”

Robinson had testified that Smith’s brother, who was 7 at the time of Smith’s death and whom the Robinsons also encouraged, would become angry with his younger sister and may have contributed to her murder, but the evidence presented in court has listed Ariel and Austin as the primary abusers in the household, according to FOX Carolina.

Christy Kednocker Sustakovich, Associate Counsel for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit for Greenville County, said the prosecution is “extremely grateful to the jury for their attention and work on this devastating case.”

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“This jury must have seen and heard some truly awful things. We are so grateful for the verdict in this tragic case,” she said. “There are no winners in a case like this. We can’t bring Tori back but she will always live on in our memories. I’ve learned that in these cases the best you can hope for is justice and the jury brought exactly that. May sweet Victoria Rose Smith forever rest in eternal peace.”

Family of 3-year-old child abused by Food Network contestant Ariel Robinson speaks out after guilty verdict

Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith
(Michelle Wooten Urps/Justice for Victoria Rose Smith Facebook Page)

Wooten Urps and others close to Smith have promoted a Change.org petition with nearly 46,000 signatures that calls on South Carolina lawmakers to pass a foster care reform bill called Victoria’s Law. . The law would reform the process for selecting people to become foster parents and require the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) to conduct random checks at foster homes.

After Smith’s mother’s custody rights were terminated, the 3-year-old’s extended family asked the Robinson to keep Smith’s family ‘updated’ about the children with the possibility of future contact , but the Robinsons “denied” that request, Wooten Urps explained.

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“They said they just needed time to bond and get used to it as a family, and we respected and appreciated that at the time,” she explained.

Family of 3-year-old child abused by Food Network contestant Ariel Robinson speaks out after guilty verdict

Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith
(Michelle Wooten Urps/Justice for Victoria Rose Smith Facebook Page)

A South Carolina DSS representative testified at Ariel’s trial that the department made regular monthly visits to the Robinson home, but Wooten Urps does not believe this to be true.

“Honestly and sincerely, [the Smiths] should never have been placed in this house. Financial problems alone should have prevented them from having these children. So…we’re calling for stricter screening processes,” Wooten Urps said, adding that the fact that the Robinsons weren’t trained in CPR was a red flag.

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She continued, “We’re asking for surprise visits as well. What’s going to have to happen is…the DSS is responsible for all of this, and some of those responsibilities are going to have to be taken out of their system because their workload is They’re just overworked and undertrained. There are plenty of other resources.

Family of 3-year-old child abused by Food Network contestant Ariel Robinson speaks out after guilty verdict

Ariel Robinson
(Simpsonsville Police)

Earlier this week, prosecutors argued the Robinsons fatally beat Smith on January 14, 2021, when police found the girl unconscious in their home. Greenville County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Ward, a medical examiner, testified on Wednesday that the toddler was beaten with such force that his blood vessels burst, allowing blood to pool in his muscles and fat, which could have resulted in his death, FOX reported Caroline.

“If we lose enough blood, the heart doesn’t have enough volume to pump,” he said.

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Ariel, a former teacher, was awarded $25,000 after winning the Food Network competition, which pits amateur cooks against each other in a series of culinary challenges supervised by celebrity chefs, Deadline reported.

His season’s episodes are no longer available to stream on Food Network’s online platforms, including Discovery+, Hulu and YouTube.

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