Ariel Robinson went from worst cook in America to the most-hated mother in the country. The South Carolina woman's bond was denied.
Trigger warning: Graphic details of violence against children
Food Network's Worst Cooks in America Season 20 was removed from its streaming service after the winner, Ariel Robinson, 29, and her husband, Jerry Robinson, 34, were arrested in Simpsonville, South Carolina, for alleged homicide by child abuse of the death of their 3-year-old foster daughter, Victoria Rose Smith. The 29-year-old woman appeared in court on February 12 where she claimed that she was trying to save the child's life. The mom claimed that the bruises were from her attempt at keeping the child from drowning.
Ariel said that Victoria died from drinking too much water, as per New York Post. She appeared virtually during her bond hearing on the Friday before Valentine's Day. Prosecutors revealed that she told first responders she believed the little girl drowned from drinking too much water. Prosecutors also added that the child had extensive injuries, including deep purple bruising on her abdomen, bruising on her ear, abrasions on her face, bruising down her back and bruising up and down both legs after her death on January 14.
However, Ariel said that the child was having stomach issues from eating something, so she ended up drinking many cups of water. Then, the child suddenly went limp, she claims, and added that that's when she performed the Heimlich maneuver on the child. When Ariel was asked about bruises on other parts of the child's body, she blamed it on the child's 7-year-old brother. She claimed that he had anger issues and caused those injuries. However, the boy's principal reportedly told prosecutors that he was a happy child who never showed any outward signs of aggression. A judge ultimately denied her $40,000 bond request, according to Fox Carolina.
Ariel, the mother of two biological kids, had taken in Victoria and her two elder brothers. The three siblings were in foster care since March 2020 but had lived with others before coming to the 29-year-old and her husband.
The mom said that she performed the Heimlich maneuver on the 3-year-old child, thinking she was choking. She reportedly added that she pressed on her stomach, which she says is the probable cause for bruising to the girl’s abdomen. However, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office determined that the child died from blunt force injuries.
Meanwhile, Ariel's story doesn't match with her husband Jerry's. He's given a different account to investigators. He said that he was outside of a room while his wife repeatedly beat Victoria with a belt. He added that she used a "belt, paddle, flip flop, or whatever" in past beatings. When he went into the room he reportedly told her that she went too far.
He added that they had put the child in an Epsom salt bath after which he visited a pharmacy to buy medication to help with the bruising. But, she became unresponsive. Prosecutors said that law enforcement had attained surveillance footage of Jerry making the purchase at the pharmacy as well.
The Robinsons were in the process of adopting Victoria and her two brothers. The late toddler's biological mother, Casie Phares, also appeared in court and asked that Ariel's bond be denied. "On Thursday January 14, 2021, 3-year-old daughter, Victoria Rose, was taken from this earth. My family and I have been devastated by her passing. It's because of this that we respectfully request you deny bond for the defendant," she said.
Casie and other foster moms who had taken care of Victoria gave her a funeral earlier this month after having to battle for the privileges to do so. A family friend started a petition on Change.org as well, seeking reform to the Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services policies.
Cover image source: Change.org