ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Editor’s note: This article contains information that some might find graphic in nature. Discretion is advised.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report released Tuesday showed a blade tip found in 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey’s body originated from a knife that was discovered in a St. Johns County retention pond, according to News 6 partner WJXT-TV.
Aiden Fucci, now 15, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Bailey, his schoolmate. She was found stabbed to death on Mother’s Day last year in Durbin Crossing, less than a half-mile from Fucci’s home in the neighborhood where Bailey also lived. Fucci was arrested in the early morning hours the next day.
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According to the state attorney, Bailey was stabbed 114 times.
The FDLE report lists two pieces of evidence submitted to the FDLE in April that underwent forensic analysis. The report shows one is a damaged buck knife — which was removed from a retention pond near the location where Bailey’s body was found — with a silver-colored metal blade and the tip of the blade missing. The second piece of evidence, according to the report, is a damaged silver-colored metal knife blade tip that was recovered from Bailey’s scalp.
The report states that examinations of the knife and the blade tip showed that they were similar in color, type of material and “striation pattern running along the width of the blade pieces.”
“Further comparisons of their fractured edges also revealed the correspondence of the complex feature contours and surface details,” the report continues.
The report concludes by saying the blade tip and the knife blade were at one time a single item. News4JAX spoke with Belkis Plata, a local criminal defense lawyer with Plata Schott Law who is not affiliated with the case.
“Maybe some rust or something like that, but the important parts — name, serial number — those could still be on it,” Plata said of the knife.
News4JAX asked Plata what a defense lawyer would do with this information now that it has been submitted.
“You’re trying to find out can they possibly tie it to my client? Where did the knife come from? Who sold it?” Plata said. “Kind of try to piece it together.”
Fucci is being tried as an adult. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. As a juvenile when the offense occurred, he is not eligible for the death penalty. Fucci’s lawyer, Rosemarie Peoples, filed a motion late last month, asking to move her client’s November trial to next year because she needs more time to talk to witnesses and work on the case.
During an Aug. 5 hearing, Judge Lee Smith asked Fucci’s defense attorney if she’d be ready for a February trial, and she cautiously said yes. Smith said that he wanted to think about this more before ruling on the motion and that he will make a ruling at the next court hearing on Aug. 19.
His attorney also filed a separate motion in July invoking his constitutional rights, including his right to stay silent and his right to counsel.
The FDLE report is another development in the highly publicized murder case — which is one reason why Plata suspects the defense could push for a change of venue in the trial and might be successful in doing so.
“I saw the survey that the defense attorney sent out trying to find out who in their community knows about this,” Plata said, referencing a survey with questions about the murder case that was emailed to several people living in St. Johns County by the public defender’s office. “And I think everybody in the community knows about it. And when the state keeps releasing information, or public records requests are made and distributed, that’s going to affect a potential jury pool.”
Fucci is being held in the Duval County jail in Jacksonville while he awaits his trial.
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