Bond for food show star’s spouse accused in child’s death

A South Carolina judge set bond Friday for the husband of the winner of a Food Network cooking competition show, who along with his wife, is accused in the death of their 3-year-old foster daughter.

Judge Letitia Verdin set bond at $150,000 for Jerry “Austin” Robinson with the conditions that he be under house arrest and have GPS monitoring. He’s also to live with his parents and have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, Verdin said.

Robinson, 34, and his wife Ariel face charges of homicide by child abuse in the death of Victoria Smith, who was found unresponsive in the family’s home in Simpsonville on Jan. 14 and later died in an area hospital, news outlets reported.

According to arrest warrants, the Robinsons inflicted a “series of blunt force injuries” on Smith.

Ariel Robinson, 29, was denied bond in February.

During the court hearing, Assistant Solicitor Christy Kednocker-Sustakovitch said the couple originally told first responders they believed the child had choked on water from drinking too much. Jerry Robinson later told police that on the day the little girl was found unresponsive, his wife had hit her with a belt, Kednocker-Sustakovitch said.

Jerry Robinson told authorities that Ariel Robinson would spank and beat the little girl and was often upset by how long it took her to eat, Kednocker-Sustakovitch said during the hearing.

Kednocker-Sustakovitch argued against bond for Jerry Robinson, saying he did not tell investigators about his wife’s treatment of the child until he hired an attorney. Jerry Robinson’s attorney, Lucas Marchant, said his client deserved bond because he’s cooperated with the investigation and is extremely remorseful.

Casie Phares, the toddler’s biological mother, said she was disappointed by the judge’s decision. She said her daughter would’ve celebrated her fourth birthday March 20.

“I just think as a parent you should’ve said something,” Phares said. “It’s difficult to watch, and it’s unfair for my daughter.”

Officials say the Robinsons were in the process of adopting Smith and her two brothers.

Ariel Robinson earned both local and national recognition in August when she won the Food Network’s cooking show “Worst Cooks in America.”

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