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A former Food Network show contestant took the stand in her own defense during her trial, and now a jury will determine if she killed her foster child.
Ariel Robinson, 30, faces homicide by child abuse for the 2021 death of her foster child, 3-year-old Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith.
Her trial began on Monday and, over the course of the week, prosecutors outlined how she allegedly beat the toddler to death inside her South Carolina home, FOX Carolina reports.
But Robinson, who won Season 20 of the Food Network show “Worst Cooks In America,” denied those allegations when she took the stand in her town defense.
While crying, she claimed that Tori was “a perfect child” and her “mini-me,” and that her husband, 35-year-old Jerry “Austin” Robinson, was lying when he told the police that she had beat the toddler. She testified that he, in fact, has “one of the scariest types of anger issues.”
Her husband has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse, but originally faced the same charges as his wife.
During closing arguments, Deputy Solicitor Christy Sustakovich told the jury that the evidence against Ariel Robinson is “overwhelming.”
“The only person who you’ve seen being cruel to Tori is this defendant,” Sustakovich said.
Meanwhile, Ariel’s attorney, Bill Bouton, claimed that Jerry Robinson “cut a deal” for less time behind bars and that he has credibility issues, according to Fox Carolina. Jerry Robinson faces 10-20 years behind bars.
Jurors began their deliberations on Thursday.
Ariel, a former middle school teacher and a local comedian, was the champion of Season 20 the Food Network's long-running "Worst Cooks In America," which features amateur chefs with poor cooking skills put through a culinary boot camp competition. As the winner of a $25,000 grand prize, she declared that the money would go towards her family and three adopted children, local outlet WYFF reported.
The Food Network pulled her season from streaming platforms following the arrest of the couple. Ariel Robinson's teaching license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Education after her arrest as well.
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