ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Prosecutors said they have charged 14-year-old Aiden Fucci as an adult on first-degree murder charges in the homicide of his 13-year-old schoolmate, Tristyn Bailey, after reviewing all of the evidence showing the young victim suffered a “horrific” attack before her death.
Fucci was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in Bailey’s death earlier this month, but updated documents show prosecutors are seeking to upgrade the charge to first-degree murder.
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State Attorney R.J. Larizza officially announced Thursday a grand jury in St. Johns County had indicted Fucci on first-degree murder charges. The state attorney’s office also filed a transfer order to move him to the adult court system. He will be moved out of a juvenile facility to one outside of Volusia County where he is currently.
Bailey was found stabbed to death in a wooded area near her St. Johns County home on May 9. The St. Johns County sheriff called her death a “cold-blooded murder” and said, “the word accident is nowhere involved in this case.”
Larizza laid out the evidence against Fucci Thursday revealing the 13-year-old girl was stabbed a total of 114 times with at least 49 to her hands, arms and head that were defensive in nature.
“We can’t see what happened at this pond but we know there was a struggle,” Larizza said, also saying “To say that it was horrific would be an understatement.”
The murder weapon was found in a nearby pond not far from where the fatal attack took place, Larizza said. The hunting knife recovered was missing a tip and that piece was found on Bailey’s body, according to the state attorney’s office.
The sheriff’s office said Fucci’s story changed multiple times since the start of the investigation, but he ultimately made several admissions that were verified using surveillance video and other pieces of evidence.
Larizza said ultimately after reviewing all of the evidence it was not difficult to decide to try the 14-year-old as an adult. If convicted in juvenile court he could be up for parole in a few years, according to the prosecutor.
“It’s a sad decision and a sad state of affairs,” Larizza said.
DNA evidence was also found connecting the victim and her accused killer including her DNA on some of his clothing. Witnesses also told investigators Fucci made multiple statements indicating he intended to kill someone, the arrest warrant shows.
“Both witnesses indicated the defendant state on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill someone by stabbing them or slitting throat,” the document reads. ”The witness provided further testimony the defendant state if he were to kill someone, it was going to be planned, he would find a random person walking at night, drag them into woods, and stab them.”
The state attorney said while it’s “disappointing” those statements were not reported, there is no evidence anyone else was involved in the violent homicide of the 13-year-old girl.
“I hope parents will learn something from this physical and brutal murder and that is that you need to know what your kids are saying and doing,” Larizza said, adding “Teenagers are capable of things we never imagined.”
Shortly after Bailey’s death, social media posts were circulating from several accounts attempting to use the case for fame and followers. The sheriff’s office said they have been bombarded with “hundreds and hundreds of leads” about these internet trolls and that they’re investigating every tip.
The sheriff’s office continues to investigate social media exploitation of the crime, including possible criminal charges, Larizza said.
“Be careful about what you say and do,” he warned.
Bailey’s family provided a statement after the charges were announced to News 6 partner WJXT.
We appreciate that today’s outcome is directly the result of the thorough and comprehensive work from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office along with the 7th District State Attorney’s office as part of the initial steps to bring justice for Tristyn’s murder. We would specifically like to recognize the Criminal Investigations Unit of the SJSO. We greatly appreciate the tremendous community outpouring from all parts of the world. Particularly for those in St. Johns that have helped from the Mother’s Day search, the vigils, remembrances and memorials. With the press conference sharing details of this heinous crime, the caring and love shown from the people and businesses to raise up the memory of Tristyn and the resolve of our community serve as a beacon of light in the darkness. As shared in the Celebration of Life on the battle of the two wolves, it helps us to feed the good wolf. We also would like to thank the Jacksonville media for respecting our privacy while we mourn the loss of Tristyn. A special thanks to News4Jax for livestreaming the Celebration of Life to enable people globally to observe the service. We do ask for your continued respect for our privacy as well as of Tristyn’s teammates and her school. As we move forward, we will seek to keep Tristyn’s memory alive and the spirit of the community.The Bailey 7
An attorney for Fucci withdrew as counsel last week and he will now be represented by the Public Defender’s Office. Attorney Josh Mosley will be the lead attorney on the teen’s case, said Public Defender Matt Phillips, who will also be involved.
Fucci had another first appearance in front of a judge virtually on Friday morning on the first-degree murder charge he faces. As a teen, he will be kept separately from the adult inmates. Authorities have not yet disclosed which facility he will be moved to.
“This indictment today represents only the first step in a very long and difficult process,” the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “We remain confident in the strength and thoroughness of the investigation and will be fully prepared to present all of the facts and evidence to a jury at the appropriate time.”