UPDATE: Ariel Robinson has been found guilty of homicide by child abuse. She was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The state has rested its case in the trial accusing a Simpsonville foster mother of homicide by child abuse. That defendant agreed to testify Thursday morning.
Bodycam footage taken moments after emergency crews responded to a 911 call for a possible child drowning in a Simpsonville home in 2021, was displayed in court Wednesday afternoon.
It showed when emergency crews got there, they said they found three-year-old Victoria Smith unresponsive on her bedroom floor, covered in bruises. Also there, her foster parents. That includes the defendant, Ariel Robinson.
The bodycam footage shows her talking to law enforcement and blaming the bruises on Smith partly and from herself doing CPR wrong. The bruises on Tori’s legs, the footage shows her blaming that on Tori’s brother.
“He will hit her with a shoe, he’ll find one of Austin’s belts, a hanger. Anything that is around because he is angry,” said Ariel Robinson in bodycam footage shown Wednesday.
Greenville County’s chief medical examiner though isn’t convinced that’s how the bruises appeared. He told the courtroom, his autopsy report shows those kinds of injuries were too severe to be inflicted in either of the ways Robinson described.
“This isn’t what we think of as a traditional bruise of the skin. This is a severe, deep injury that is tearing tissue from tissue,” Greenville County Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Ward said.
An Upstate pediatric intensive care doctor said the injuries she saw on Smith were the worst she has seen.
“This is extensive, dependent on a child’s body that was inflicted repetitively by blunt force trauma which is the worst I’ve seen,” said Dr. Christina Goben.
The prosecution took the jury back to what happened 24 hours before Smith’s death. They said Robinson and her family went to church the night before.
A fellow church member testified and said she heard something concerning at bible study that night when she walked into the bathroom and saw Tori wearing barely any clothes. She said Ariel Robinson told her Tori had shoved too much food in her mouth and made herself throw up.
“While I was in the stall, I heard Ariel say you’re cold? You’re cold? Girls who make themselves throw up deserve to be cold,” said Avery Santiago who went to church with Ariel Robinson.
The defense argued, that one of the solicitor’s key witnesses, Ariel’s husband Jerry Austin, is not credible or reliable. Citing a history of him lying in their relationship.
The judge said they’re expecting this case to be in the jury’s hands by Thursday afternoon.
The trial will resume Thursday morning.