‘You went too far:’ Husband of Food Network star pleads guilty in 3-year-old’s death
Trial for winner of Worst Cooks in America set for May
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - On Thursday Jerry “Austin” Robinson, the husband of Food Network star Ariel Robinson, pleaded guilty in connection with the death of Victoria Smith, the couple’s 3-year-old foster daughter.
“Tori” died after she was beaten by Ariel Robinson at their home on Sellwood Circle in Simpsonville on Jan. 14, 2021, according to prosecutors.
New details about the investigation into Tori’s death came out during Thursday’s hearing.
JERRY ROBINSON PLEADS GUILTY
Jerry Robinson pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse/aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse. He will remain on house arrest until Ariel Robinson’s trial.
Prosecutors said Jerry Robinson claims he never physically hurt Tori but told investigators Ariel would beat her with different things including a belt.
Ariel was angry with Tori the night before her death because she threw up on herself on the way to church, Jerry Robinson told investigators. The next morning, he said Ariel was frustrated with Tori for not eating her pancakes fast enough.
He described hearing Ariel giving Tori a “whooping” with a belt that was audible from outside the home. According to prosecutors, when Jerry went inside he saw Ariel standing over Tori with the belt saying, “You don’t get to tell me when you’re done.”
Robinson reportedly told Ariel, “You’ve gone too far. You went too far this time.” He went to CVS to buy liquid Tylenol to try to bring the bruising down, attorneys said, and they gave Tori an Epsom salt bath.
Jerry called 911 hours later and when first responders arrived at the home, Tori was in cardiac arrest.
Jerry Robinson’s attorney asked the judge to take his cooperation with the investigation into account when considering sentencing. He faces 10 to 20 years minimum in prison. He will be sentenced after Ariel Robinson’s trial.
ARIEL ROBINSON GOING TO TRIAL
Ariel Robinson will go to trial on May 9.
The Robinsons’ attorney asked for court proceedings before Ariel’s trial to be closed to media and the public, but a judge denied the request. The judge said efforts are being taken to ensure Ariel Robinson has a fair trial and they have notified three times the normal number of jurors.
Prosecutors asked for body camera footage from when first responders responded to the 911 call on Sellwood Circle to be admissible in court during Ariel Robinson’s trial.
The body camera footage captures first responders’ “horrified” reactions when they found the bruising on Victoria’s body, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Ariel Robinson told first responders the bruising on her abdomen was caused by the force she used trying to do CPR. She claimed the bruising on Victoria’s legs was caused by her then-7-year-old brother, according to prosecutors.
Robinson’s attorney has pushed for the body camera footage to be inadmissible, however, since she was not read her Miranda Rights on scene at the time.
The judge will decide Friday whether or not the body camera footage is admissible.
Prosecutors also asked for seven photographs to be admissible in court. Six of the photos show Tori’s injuries and one autopsy photo shows the internal bleeding that caused her death. She bled to death internally in her legs, prosecutors said.
In pushing for the photos of Tori’s injuries to be admissible in court, prosecutors say they show the amount of force that caused her death - which they argue could not be caused by another child.
They said Ariel Robinson committed abuse that shows “an extreme indifference to human life.”
The Robinsons’ attorney argued that the graphic photographs are not needed for a jury to understand the case. A judge ruled five of the seven photos are admissible in court.
Robinson was a winner of season 20 of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America.
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