Aiden Fucci: Teen gets life in prison for brutal stabbing murder of classmate Tristyn Bailey
A Florida teenager has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of 13-year-old classmate Tristyn Bailey, whom he fatally stabbed 114 times.
A judge ordered that he never be released from behind bars over the Mother’s Day 2021 killing in which the teenage cheerleader’s body was found in woods near his home south of Jacksonville.
Fucci was a juvenile when the killing occurred and was not eligible for the death penalty, but his sentence will be reviewed after 25 years behind bars.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February and on 24 March was handed life imprisonment by Judge R Lee Smith for her brutal killing. His sentence can be reviewed after he spends 25 years behind bars.
“This was not done out of greed. It was not done in retaliation or retribution or revenge. It was not a crime of passion. It was not a crime that was committed because he felt rejected by her. It was not done in a fit of uncontrollable anger. There was no reason. There was no purpose,” Judge Smith told St Johns County Court.
“It was done for no other reason than to satisfy this defendant’s internal desire to feel what it was like to kill someone,” Smith said. “This leads this court to the conclusion that there is only one appropriate sentence in this case.”
The judge said that the premeditation in the case had to be reflected by the sentence.
“He indicated he was going to kill someone. At which point he determined it was going to be Tristyn Bailey, I don’t know,” Judge Smith said. “But there was going to be a victim.”
Following the sentencing, State Attorney R J Larizza said that if Fucci had not been caught he believed that there would have been additional victims.
“I am grateful for the life sentence handed down today, and I truly believe that had Fucci avoided arrest and prosecution, he would have killed again. Please keep the Bailey Family in your thoughts and prayers,” he said.
“The Bailey Family has suffered tremendously for the last 22 months while experiencing our criminal justice process – a process that is not victim and family-friendly. Our system focuses on the defendant – many times at the expense of the victim/victim’s family.”
Tristyn was reported missing to St Johns County Sheriff’s Office by her family at around 10am on Sunday 9 May 2021, which was Mother’s Day.
She was last seen at the family home at around midnight and although it is unclear when she left a friend told investigators that Tristyn and Fucci were both at a friend’s house together.
Investigators said she and Fucci were seen on surveillance cameras leaving the house together at around 1am, with Fucci spotted by the same camera walking back alone two hours later.
Her body was found at around 6pm that night near a retention pond near Saddlestone Drive, outside Jacksonville.
Fucci, who lived around half a mile from where the body was discovered, was arrested just hours after Tristyn’s body was discovered.
As he sat in a police car, he posted a selfie to Snapchat that read, “Hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately.”
Divers later found a knife linked to both Tristyn and Fucci in the retention pond.
He initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty of first-degree murder just minutes before the start of his murder trial on 6 February 2023.
“I just want to apologise to the Bailey family,” Fucci told the court.
The guilty plea had not been negotiated with prosecutors, St Johns County Circuit Judge Smith said.
Prosecutors had already rejected several plea deals made by the defence, a lawyer for Fucci told the court.
Sheriff Robert Hardwick said in a statement afterwards the guilty plea was a sign of the overwhelming evidence investigators had assembled.
Fucci’s sentencing began on 21 March, with family members confronting Fucci as they gave testimony and telling the court the damage that Tristyn’s death had caused them.
Her sister, Alexis Bailey, dropped 114 aqua-coloured stones into a glass jar as she gave heartbreaking testimony.
“One for each of the 114 stab wounds that my sister had to endure,” Alexis Bailey told the court as she spent nearly two minutes dropping the symbolic stones.
“Did she see you coming at her with the knife? Or did you stab her while she wasn’t paying attention? Did she scream out for help? Or was she paralyzed with agony? Did she cry for my mother? Did she beg you to stop?” she added.
“What were her last words? Did you stay to watch her die? Or did you leave her there in agonizing pain as you ran away? How long did she suffer?”
And she added: “The memories of May 9 will forever be engrained in my mind, body and soul. To know I was awake and only 11 minutes away from my sister as she was being brutally murdered. Could I have saved her?
“Aiden Fucci didn’t just take Tristyn’s life that day. He took everything from us. Our family’s sense of security, laughs, health and sense of potential. For us, justice does not exist in this case and closure does not exist in this case. Peace, understanding and forgiveness will never come.”
After each family member completed their testimony they placed a white heart-shaped stone into the jar, representing what they said Fucci had taken away from them.
Tristyn’s mother, Stacy, dropped two white stones into the jar, reported WJXT.
She told the court that one was for her daughter, Sophia, who had lost the chance to be a big sister.
And she said the other was for herself, representing her lost joy, hope, future, “and my beautiful daughter.”
Everyone who gave a statement called for Fucci to receive the maximum sentence available under the law.
“Aiden Fucci, your deplorable actions are unforgivable, and I will pray every day that you stay in prison for the rest of your life and never be able to harm anyone else in this world again,” said an emotional Stacy Bailey.
“Your Honour, I plead with you, please consider everything he has done to our daughter and to our family.
“Aiden Fucci made a heinous decision on May 9, 2021, and took the very life that I brought into this world. Please do not for one second think that he could be rehabilitated at any point. He is beyond saving.”