Aiden Fucci, a Florida teen charged with the murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey, who was stabbed 114 times two years ago, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
The plea was made the day before jury selection was set to begin in his trial. Prosecutors will seek a life sentence as the maximum penalty. No plea deal was offered.
Fucci’s lawyer did not immediately respond to comment. Tristyn’s family expressed relief at the plea, and said they were confident of a guilty verdict.
Fucci was arrested for the murder on May 10, 2021, and initially charged with second-degree murder, but later indicted for first-degree murder.
According to the affidavit, Fucci told investigators that he and the victim got into an argument after they left a mutual friend’s before dawn on May 9. He reportedly pushed her to the ground before stabbing her.
Full statement the family:
Foremost, we would like to give thanks to God. Since this nightmare began, we have had the love and support of so many. We know so many have lifted Tristyn, our family, and her friends up in prayer. The members of our community have been simply exceptional in the support they have given us.
This morning’s surprise change of plea brings our family significant relief. With the detailed and exemplary investigative work of the Saint Johns County Sheriff’s Office, along with the trial preparation by the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, we are confident that the jury would have returned a guilty verdict. Just as Tristyn fought for her life, we equally fought for her and would not agree to any plea deal. We were fully aligned with the Prosecutor in rejecting the proposed plea deals mentioned by the Public Defender during the plea hearing.
Today is an important milestone in the journey of Justice for Tristyn. As mentioned, we would not be at this point without the dedicated efforts of so many.
We know that it has been a team effort to which so many have contributed. On behalf of Tristyn and our family, thank you. We cannot say enough about R.J. Larizza’s team at the State Attorney’s Office. Your tireless efforts, professionalism, and support demonstrate your commitment to justice for our community.
We wish we could thank everyone by name, and there will be a time for that, but there are a few people we want to thank individually.
To begin, we are blessed to have Jennifer Dunton as our lead prosecutor. Throughout the process, she has been extremely respectful of our family whilst being keenly focused on delivering Justice. Mrs. Dunton – thank you for all your efforts to this point. We never questioned what the outcome would be with her thorough preparation. Along with fellow prosecutor Mark Johnson, we have no doubt that Mrs. Dunton and Mr. Johnson would have been successful in getting a guilty verdict in any Florida courtroom. We have faith in their abilities in the upcoming sentencing phase.
This case was built off the exceptional work of the Saint Johns County Sheriff’s Office led by Sheriff Rob Hardwick. We were immediately given confidence in the case being built by Sergeant Kurt Hannon who was the lead during the criminal investigation. We know his updates were representative of the entire SJSO: our sincere thanks to them all. In addition to Sergeant Hannon, we cannot express enough thanks to our victim’s advocate, Ashley Mitchell. We don’t know how we would navigate this without you.
The partnership between the SJSO and 7th Circuit SAO, along with the collaborative efforts of the FDLE and Duval Corrections office, have reflected amazing cooperation between government agencies. Again, we are thankful for everyone that has contributed in the journey of getting Justice for Tristyn. Of special note, we extend our thanks to the families of these agencies as we know they have made many sacrifices as well.
For the incredible community support we have received, we remain committed to reflecting on the kind and good deeds in honor of Tristyn’s spirit. With the backing of our community, neighborhood, counselors, friends, and family, we have been able to endure the nearly two years since Tristyn was taken from us while managing to share her cheer: “We got this!”
Fucci is set to appear in court on Feb. 23 for sentencing.