Ariel Shnise Robinson, 29, who is charged with homicide by child abuse in the January 14 death of her adopted daughter Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith in Simpsonville, South Carolina, is scheduled to appear in court Friday morning.
Ariel Robinson’s attorney William Innes Bouton has requested a $40,000 surety bond for his client.
Ariel Robinson is among more than 20 other defendants scheduled on the docket starting at 9:30 a.m. Friday in Greenville County. An official told FITSNews that Ariel Robinson’s hearing will likely be one of the first court proceedings of the day.
Ariel’s husband Jerry Austin Robinson, 34, has withdrawn his request for bond, according to the 13th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Greenville attorney Lucas Craig Merchant is representing Jerry Austin Robinson in the case.
Assistant solicitor Christy Sustakovitch, who specializes in crimes against children cases, is prosecuting the case.
Judge Letitia Verdin will preside over the hearing Friday.
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Verdin has worked in the 13th Judicial Circuit for nearly two decades. For years, she worked as a prosecutor and specialized in child abuse and neglect cases.
She was elected by the South Carolina legislature to serve as a circuit court judge in 2011.
In one of her biggest cases as a judge, Verdin sentenced 49-year-old Susan Hendricks to four life sentences in the shooting deaths of two of her sons, her ex-husband, and stepmother. Hendricks pleaded guilty but mentally ill.
At Friday’s hearing, Verdin will decide whether or not to grant Ariel Robinson bond and how much that bond amount would be.
Ariel Robinson’s bond was initially denied following her arrest on January 19.
In a motion for bond filed last week, Ariel’s attorney argued 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.
How to Watch The Bond Hearing
The hearing will be virtual and can be watched or listened to live at this link.
For those wanting to join the virtual court hearing Friday, see this step-by-step guide for the general public at SCCourts.org. You will be muted upon entering the virtual courtroom.
Paricipant recording is prohibited.
It is possible that Ariel’s case will be first at 9:30 a.m. Friday — but the time is not set in stone.
Earlier this week, FITSNews obtained the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office 911 audio of the January 14 incident through a Freedom of Information Act request.
On Jan. 14, 2021, Victoria Rose Smith’s adopted father Jerry Austin Robinson called 911 around 2 p.m.
His voice was calm and flat.
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“We have an emergency, our daughter isn’t responsive,” Jerry Robinson told dispatch.
He said his daughter drank a lot of water and they were trying to do CPR on her.
The dispatcher then transferred the call to EMS and Robinson stayed on the line.
Jerry Robinson then changed his story.
“Our 3-year-daughter is choking on water right now,” Jerry Robinson told EMS 911. “We need help immediately.”
Click below to hear the 911 call…..
Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith was pronounced dead later at the hospital. The coroner said she died of blunt-force trauma.
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. They were arrested on Jan. 19.
Ariel Robinson is best known for winning season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network in August. Last month, 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 and Jerry Robinson adopted Victoria and her two older brothers last March, according to her social media accounts.
In the wake of the tragedy, Smith’s biological family has publicly pushed for South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) reform.
As the case has gained national attention, web sleuths around the country have poured through Robinson’s social media sites looking for answers in this tragedy.
Specifically, many are wondering: Could SCDSS have seen this coming?
In one of her stand-ups, 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 side on her podcast (below).
In an episode that aired last August, 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 (above). “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.'”
South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) officials told FITSNews they are aware of the incident and are investigating the case along with law enforcement.
FITSNews will cover the bond hearing on Friday. Stay tuned for developments…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning 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. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].
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