Aiden Fucci, 16, has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a classmate, a cheerleader
A judge in a courtroom in St. Johns County, Florida on Friday sentenced 16-year-old Aiden Fucci to life in prison for the first-degree murder of 13-year-old cheerleader Tristyn Bailey, his friend and classmate aroused by the brutality of the killing and the age of victims and perpetrators national attention.
“Hideous, cruel and cruel,” a crime orchestrated for no other reason than to feel what it’s like to kill someone. This factor alone is the reason for Judge. R. Lee Smith said there could only be one reasonable sentence for Fucci: life in prison.
It wasn’t about greed, vengeance, revenge, rejection or a fit of uncontrollable anger, Smith told the court Friday. “This crime had no motive.”
“It was done for no other reason than to satisfy this defendant’s inner desire to feel what it was like to kill someone,” the judge said. “It was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner, without any claim to moral or legal justification.”
He said his court had seen his share of autopsy photos, but these had been particularly difficult. He repeated what has become public knowledge in the case that Tristyn sustained 114 stab wounds, 49 of which were classified as defensive, according to the coroner.
“She suffered a painful, horrible death at the hands of someone she trusted,” the judge said.
Fucci told friends he was going to kill someone and even talked about taking them to the woods, Smith said. He wanted to watch them bleed to death.
“In this case, there was an elevated level of intent,” the judge said.
Fucci pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder in Tristyn’s stabbing death on Mother’s Day 2021.
The verdict comes after two days of testimony before Judge R. Lee Smith, including hours of heartbreaking victim testimony Wednesday from Tristyn’s parents, grandmother, best friend and siblings, including her older sister Alexis Bailey, who began her testimony by dropping into a jar 114 aqua-colored stone hearts – one for each of the stab wounds Tristyn suffered from Fucci, who was just 14 at the time.
Speaking on behalf of Fucci, his grandmother, Deborah Spiwak, told the judge Wednesday that she knew her grandson must be punished for his actions, but she pleaded, “Please don’t take him out of our lives forever.” … I know there’s something good about Aiden.”
Since Fucci is a juvenile, an automatic life sentence was not an option. Instead, the teenager faced a life sentence of at least 40 years. After Fucci has served 25 years of a life sentence, Florida law allows the judge to consider the possibility of a lighter sentence. But 40 years would still be the minimum.
“I would argue that this case was the most difficult and shocking that this county has dealt with,” Smith said.
To the Bailey family, he pointed out their apparent struggles coping with such devastation.
“The loss you obviously have suffered is unimaginable,” he said.
“However, your spirit lives on within each and every one of you,” he said, advising them to fill their physical emptiness by releasing some of their anger. “She would want that happiness and laughter to return.”
Fucci, similar to that throughout the court case, showed little reaction. The Baileys hugged and later addressed the media. They wore tops that read “That’s My Squad” in Tristyn’s favorite color, aqua, and “Tristyn Bailey Strong.”
“We are very grateful for this result and believe it is the correct verdict,” said Tristyn’s father, Forrest Bailey.
Day 2:Sentencing period for Aiden Fucci, 16, who stabbed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey 114 times
Day 1:The sentencing hearing begins with the death of Tristyn Bailey, who was stabbed to death in Florida in 2021
What happened to Tristyn Bailey?
Tristyn was reported missing by her family at 10 a.m. on May 9, 2021. Evidence revealed that she and Aiden Fucci had been staying with a friend in their Durbin Crossing neighborhood in northwest St. Johns County and were last seen together after 1 a.m. this morning. Seventeen hours later, her body was discovered in the woods of a neighborhood cul-de-sac.
What happened to Tristyn Bailey?Here’s everything you need to know
How did Tristyn Bailey die?
According to Chief Medical Examiner Predrag Bulic, Tristyn’s cause of death was “sharp violent trauma from a knife wound.” An autopsy found Tristyn 114 had “stab wounds or lacerations to the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and back,” according to an unedited prosecutor’s affidavit. Forty-nine of these wounds turned out to be defensive wounds.
Timeline: Events at Disappearance, Death of Tristyn Bailey
Saturday 8 May 2021
- 11:45 p.m.: The Bailey family returns home after a night out.
- Around midnight: Tristyn Bailey is last seen by a sibling and is said to be sleeping in her bedroom.
Sunday May 9th
- 12:30 am: Video shows Tristyn walking around the neighborhood.
- 1:14 am: Two people believed to be Tristyn and Aiden are seen together.
- 1:45 am: Video evidence from a home shows Tristyn and Aiden walking east on Saddlestone Drive.
- 3:30 a.m.: Video from the same house shows a person believed to be Aiden walking alone in the opposite direction, wearing white Nike shoes. Shortly thereafter, the video shows Aiden entering his house with white Nike shoes.
- 10 a.m.: Tristyn’s mom calls 911 to report the teen missing. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is joining the search.
- 4:49 p.m.: A missing children’s Florida alert is issued for Tristyn.
- 6:06 p.m.: A resident who was on the run called to report a body in the woods east of the cul-de-sac on Saddlestone Drive. After Tristyn’s body was identified, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office called off the search.
- 8 p.m.: The sheriff’s office announces that a body has been found and tentatively identifies it as Tristyn’s.
- 8:49 p.m.: Aiden and his parents are taken to an interview room at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Monday, May 10th
- 12:44 am: Investigators search Fucci’s home and find a knife sheath; a pair of wet white Nike shoes with blood on them; a T-shirt with blood on it; a white sheet of paper with handwriting, possibly blood, on it; and a pair of wet blue denim jeans in a laundry basket. They also find blood and dirt on the drain in the sink next to Aiden’s bedroom.
- 3:30 a.m.: Aiden is arrested for second-degree murder.
- 11:30 a.m.: The sheriff’s office confirms the identity of the body found as that of Tristyn Bailey and announces the arrest of Aiden Fucci on second-degree murder. (Two weeks later, Fucci was charged with first-degree murder.)
Full Coverage:Aiden Fucci learns his fate after the gruesome murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey