Editor’s Note: Click here for the latest update on Ariel Robinson’s case
The “Worst Cooks in America” winner and South Carolina mother accused of killing her adopted 3-year-old daughter has hired an attorney and requested bond.
Ariel Shnise Robinson, 29, who is charged with homicide by child abuse in the January 14 death of her adopted daughter Victoria Rose Smith in Simpsonville, South Carolina, hired Greenville attorney William Innes Bouton.
A spokesperson with the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office told FITSNews Wednesday that both Ariel and her husband Jerry Austin Robinson, 34, who was also charged with homicide by child abuse, have bond hearings scheduled for Friday, February 12.
Bouton filed a motion on Tuesday requesting “that a reasonable bond be set pending the disposition of this case.” Robinson’s bond was initially denied following her arrest on January 19.
Ariel Robinson’s attorney argues that she has a clean criminal record, is a lifelong resident of South Carolina, and has a master’s degree from Clemson University. She was a public school teacher until 2019, the attorney wrote.
“…she is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community,” Bouton wrote in the motion.Robinson-Mot-for-Bond
Days after she was charged with homicide by child abuse, the South Carolina State Board Of Education issued an order of summary suspension against Ariel Robinson — which means even if she was granted bond, she would not be able to teach in the state.
Jerry Austin Robinson also hired an attorney for his case. According to court documents obtained by FITSNews, Greenville attorney Lucas Craig Merchant is representing Jerry Austin Robinson.
Both Ariel and Jerry Robinson’s attorneys have filed motions for discovery in the case.Untitled
Victoria’s Biological Family
Victoria Rose Smith was adopted by the Robinson family in March. Since her death, Smith’s biological family has publicly pushed for South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) reform.
Last week, the family begged Greenville County authorities to release the 3-year-old’s remains so they can have a proper funeral and burial. After several days of back-and-forth, the state released Victoria’s remains to the family.
More than 11,000 people have signed a petition asking state lawmakers to reform SCDSS — a scandal scarred agency whose failures are now in the national spotlight.
Victoria’s case is unfortunately not the first time SCDSS has been blamed in a child’s death.
According to SCDSS Office of Child Fatalities, more than 20 S.C. children die every year due to maltreatment by a caregiver.
Last week, Victoria’s biological mother Casie Phares said she was never abusive to her children, but bullied by SCDSS. Phares was first flagged by SCDSS when she tested positive for marijuana while pregnant with Victoria. After Victoria tested positive as a newborn, Victoria’s aunt said “things just kind of spiraled from there.”
One day, still while under SCDSS radar, Phares fell asleep while watching the two boys and Victoria, who was a newborn at the time. She had been up all night with the baby the night before.
The two boys ran to the neighbors while their mom was asleep, Victoria’s biological aunt Michelle Urps said. The neighbors contacted police and that was the “final straw” for SCDSS.
Phares also was struggling to find housing at the time, which made her case with SCDSS even worse.
“Instead of (SCDSS) helping her get housing, they looked at (Victoria’s mother) and said ‘figure it out,’” Urps said.
When Victoria’s mother went to court for custody of her children, her SCDSS caseworker didn’t warn her of what would happen, Victoria’s biological aunt Michelle Urps said. They told her she didn’t need an attorney. She didn’t know she could have an advocate with her, or that she needed one.
Unprepared, she lost custody of her three children, which made them available for adoption.
“(SCDSS) made me feel that it was better for the kids,” she said. “I thought they were going to a loving family. I thought if they could have better, happier lives and become better versions of themselves, that’s OK. I trusted them and they failed.”
What happened to Victoria Rose Smith?
Ariel Shnise Robinson told her husband Jerry Austin Robinson to call 911 when their daughter was unresponsive at their Simpsonville, South Carolina home around 2 p.m. January 14, 2021, according to the incident report.
Ariel stated that a 911 dispatcher told her to move (Victoria) to the floor and begin CPR, which she said that she did. According to Ariel’s podcast, she was certified in child CPR.
Because the 911 call was originally for an unresponsive child, the Simpsonville Fire Department was first dispatched at 2:16 p.m. and they arrived at the home three minutes later. EMS arrived around 2:25 p.m.
First responders immediately took over CPR on Victoria and rushed her Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital, the report said.
According to the heavily redacted report (below), it appears that first responders on scene immediately suspected child abuse. The fire department placed a call to the police department for child abuse/ aggravated assault and emergency protective custody at 2:25 p.m.Incident-Report_Robinson-1-14-21
By the time police arrived on scene at 2:30 p.m., Victoria had already been taken to the hospital.
Victoria Rose Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital that day.
Ariel and Jerry Robinson are accused of “inflicting a series of blunt force injuries” which caused Victoria Rose Smith’s death on Jan. 14, according to arrest warrants in the case.
Law enforcement said in the warrants they had enough probable cause to charge based on the investigation.
Who is Ariel Robinson?
Ariel Robinson is best known for winning season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network in August. Last week, the Food Network pulled the Ariel’s season from its streaming services.
According to her website, Ariel was a middle school teacher trying to make it as a stand-up comic, radio host and TV personality.
Ariel Robinson’s life as a comic and a mother was thoroughly documented on her Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter pages where she frequently referred to herself as a mother of five.
In the last week, Internet sleuths have poured through Ariel Robinson’s social media looking for answers in this tragic case.
How did this happen?
Did she have a different personality behind closed doors?
Ariel Robinson had a dark sense of humor. In her podcast, she spoke openly about struggling with depression and said she attempted suicide multiple times as a teenager.
“This is the first year I’ve literally and specifically prayed to god ‘can you just let the rapture take place?’” Ariel Robinson said. “I literally hate it here. I literally hate this earth.”
In one of her standups, Ariel Robinson joked on video about threatening to punch her child in the throat while social workers visited her home during the adoption process.
However, Ariel Robinson showed a much more sensitive personality at times on her podcast (below). In one of the episodes, she talked about how she couldn’t watch the news because she gets too upset — especially when it comes to news about children getting abused or killed.
“I’m very sensitive when it comes to stories about children and stuff like that,” Robinson said in her podcast (below). “So when the news starts talking about kids getting abused or murdered or left in a car or things like that, I was like I can’t watch this for my mental health because I can’t stand to hear about a child being harmed. So I stopped watching the news.”
Ariel and her husband Jerry Robinson face life in prison if convicted of homicide by child abuse. They are currently behind bars at the Greenville County Detention Center and were both denied bond.
To report child abuse in South Carolina, please call 1-888-CARE-4-US or use this online portal.
We will stay on top of this case and hope to bring an update soon. Stay tuned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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