The Florida teenager who murdered his classmate, a 13-year-old cheerleader, is “beyond saving,” the victim’s shattered mother testified Wednesday in court.
In a surprise move, Aiden Fucci, 16, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder Feb. 6, the day jury selection was set to begin at his trial for stabbing Tristyn Bailey 114 times and leaving her body in a wooded area near a pond.
“Your Honor, I plead with you, please consider everything he has done to our daughter and our family. Aiden Fucci made a heinous decision on May 9, 2021, and took the very life that I brought into this world,” the slain teen’s mom, Stacy Bailey, said through tears. “Please do not for one second think that he could be rehabilitated at any point. He is beyond saving.”
Bailey spoke on the second day of a sentencing hearing held before Judge R. Lee Smith in a 7th Judicial Circuit courtroom in St. Augustine. Tristyn’s father and three of her four older siblings also tearfully addressed the judge, urging him to impose the maximum sentence.
Smith will decide whether to give Fucci, who is being tried as an adult, a minimum of 40 years to up to life in prison. His decision could come as early as Friday.
Fucci is not eligible for the death penalty because he committed the crime when he was 14.
Bailey described the frequent nightmares that now haunt her. “Visions flood my head how terrified she must have been,” she told the court. “What went wrong in that moment of betrayal from someone she thought was her friend? Did she know it was coming? Did you wait for her back to be turned for the first strike of the knife?”
State Attorney RJ Larizza previously revealed that Tristyn had 49 defensive wounds on her hands, arms and head, and that the tip of the hunting knife Fucci used broke off in her skull.
“She fought, and our beautiful daughter suffered for so long as he took no mercy,” Stacy said before staring directly at her child’s killer, who was wearing a red prison-issue jumpsuit. “Aiden Fucci, you have destroyed me, you have destroyed my family.”
Tristyn’s sister, Alexis Bailey, was the first family member to address the court. She took the witness stand without speaking and methodically placed 114 turquoise stones into a jar, which took nearly two minutes.
“One for each of the 114 stab wounds that my sister had to endure,” Alexis said. She glared at Fucci sitting at the defense table, as she peppered him with questions she knew he would not answer.
“Did she scream out for help or was she paralyzed with agony? Did she cry for my mother? Did she beg you to stop? Did you hear her lungs gargling with blood? Did you stay to watch her die?” Alexis asked. “Did you watch the life leave her eyes?”
Fucci’s friends told investigators that he fantasized about violence and murder in the weeks before the slaying, drawing pictures of mutilated bodies.
Tristyn was a competitive cheerleader who attended Patriot Oaks Academy alongside Fucci. The night of her murder, she sneaked out of her house and was hanged out with Fucci and another classmate.
She was last seen alive on a surveillance camera walking alongside Fucci at 1:45 a.m. on a quiet street in the upscale suburb Durban Crossing outside Jacksonville. About two hours later, Fucci was seen emerging from a wooded area carrying his Nike sneakers in his arms.
The next morning, Mother’s Day, her family realized she was not in her room and reported her missing. Police soon found her body near a pond in the neighborhood.
“Our family broke that day and I don’t recognize any of us anymore,” Alexis said of the moment she learned of her baby’s sister murder.
Tristyn’s room remains the same two years later – her dirty laundry still untouched.
“I can’t bear to change one thing, not even washing her clothes in the hamper as it would wash away the scent of her,” Stacy said.