In an extremely tragic and sad story, the winner of season 20 of Worst Cooks in America has been sentenced to life in prison for murder. According to Deadline, Ariel Robinson has been convicted of homicide by child abuse in North Carolina after an extremely brief deliberation by a jury at the end of a four-day trial. Robinson had been charged with the death of Victoria “Tori” Smith, a three-year-old foster child in the care of her and her husband Austin Robinson.
According to Austin Robinson, Victoria Smith was not eating her breakfast quickly enough for Ariel Robinson, who began to physically beat her with a belt. The child later died from internal injuries from the beating, which Robinson claimed went on for approximately an hour. A pediatric intensive care witness in the case, Dr. Christina Goben, said the injuries were the most severe she had ever seen. The Greenville Country medical examiner also testified that the autopsy revealed the injuries to be far more damaging than Ariel Robinson had claimed.
Ariel Robinson was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Letitia Verdin, while Austin Robinson faces 10 to 20 years in prison. He pled guilty to aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse and has yet to be sentenced. During the course of the trial, Ariel Robinson’s attorney attempted to cast doubt on his depiction of events by getting him to admit the many times he had deceived his spouse throughout their marriage. However, it did not seem to sway the jury’s ultimate decision.
Ariel Robinson appeared in Worst Cooks in America’s 20th season in 2020. The long-running show features individuals with extremely poor kitchen skills (calling them “recruits”) who over the course of a season undergo a cooking boot camp for the chance to win a cash prize. Ariel Robinson’s season was hosted by Food Network personality Anne Burrell along with chef and frequent Food Network contributor Alex Guarnaschelli. Robinson, a teacher at the time, managed to defeat 13 other contestants/recruits over the course of the season to win the prize. Upon Robinson being charged, Discovery (the parent company of Food Network) pulled the entire season from all platforms.
Regrettably, this is not the first time a reality TV contestant has been accused or convicted of heinous crimes. MasterChef contestant and serial killer Stephen Port was convicted of four murders in 2016 and will spend the rest of his life in prison. Will Hayden was the star of the Discovery Channel’s reality series Sons of Guns until his conviction for sex crimes and is now serving three life sentences. A&E Network canceled a program called Adults Adopting Adults after barely a month on the air after allegations of misbehavior against an individual named Danny Huff who featured on the show became public. Sadly, it seemed Ariel Robinson’s case is not unique.
There is ultimately nothing good to say about the circumstances involving Ariel Robinson and the death of Victoria Smith, but the court case seems to have concluded with as close to justice as can be possible. Rest in peace, Victoria Smith.