GRAPHIC: Husband of Food Network star pleads guilty in 3-year-old’s beating death
GRAPHIC WARNING: The details of this story may disturb some readers.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina/Gray News) – The husband of a Food Network star pleaded guilty Thursday to charges in the death of the couple’s 3-year-old foster daughter.
Jerry “Austin” Robinson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse in the death of Victoria “Tori” Smith.
Prosecutors say Tori died in January 2021 after she was beaten by Ariel Robinson, the winner of season 20 of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America.”
Jerry Robinson will remain on house arrest until his wife’s trial.
Prosecutors said Jerry Robinson claims he never physically hurt Tori but told investigators Ariel Robinson would beat the child with different items, including a belt.
Ariel Robinson was angry with Tori the night before her death because she vomited on herself on the way to church, Jerry Robinson told investigators. The next morning, he said Ariel Robinson was frustrated with Tori for not eating her pancakes fast enough.
He described hearing Ariel Robinson giving Tori a “whooping” with a belt that was audible from outside the home. According to prosecutors, when Jerry Robinson went inside, he saw his wife standing over Tori with the belt, saying, “You don’t get to tell me when you’re done.”
Jerry Robinson claims he told his wife, “You’ve gone too far. You went too far this time.” He went to CVS to buy liquid Tylenol to try to bring Tori’s bruising down, attorneys said, and then gave the child an Epsom salt bath.
Jerry Robinson 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 will go to trial on May 9.
Prosecutors asked for body camera footage from when first responders responded to the 911 call 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 Tori’s body, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Ariel Robinson told first responders the bruising on Tori’s abdomen was caused by the force she used trying to do CPR. She claimed the bruising on Tori’s legs was caused by her then-7-year-old brother, according to prosecutors.
However, Ariel Robinson’s attorney has pushed for the body camera footage to be inadmissible since she was not read her Miranda Rights on the scene at the time.
The judge will decide Friday whether the body camera footage is admissible in Ariel Robinson’s trial.
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