Fourteen-year-old Aiden Fucci stabbed cheerleader Tristyn Bailey 114 times when he killed her and left the tip of his folding Buck knife lodged in her scalp, prosecutors said on Thursday as they charged him with first degree, pre-meditated murder .
Fucci was arrested earlier this month, a day after 13 year-old Tristyn’s body was found covered with knife wounds in St Johns, Florida.
Initially, he was charged with second degree murder as a juvenile, but prosecutors have spent weeks deliberating whether to upgrade that charge to first degree murder, and whether to process him as an adult.
On Thursday, the district attorney filed paperwork charging him as an adult with first degree pre-meditated murder. It is a capital felony that can carry the death penalty for anyone who committed the crime over the age of 15. He narrowly misses that by just a year.
State’s Attorney R.J. Larizza gave harrowing details at a press conference afterwards, saying it was a ‘sad’ but easy decision given how violent the killing was and indicating that his office will seek life without parole.
He indicated that he they would seek life without parole but said Aiden will likely be able to appeal it, as part of a wider, ongoing effort to reduce sentences for juveniles, in Florida.
Prosecutors are yet to reveal whether there was any evidence of sexual assault, or if they have honed in on a motive. They did say that Fucci had been telling friends he planned to kill ‘someone’ in the woods and that it could be that Aiden was in ‘the wrong place at the wrong time’.
He revealed that Aiden had told friends he was going to kill ‘someone in the woods’ before he murdered Tristyn, and said that it was ‘disturbing’ it wasn’t taken seriously.
‘You’ve heard that our victim Tristyn was stabbed – to say that it was horrific could be argued to be an understatement. The medical examiner completed an autopsy on our victim and identified confidently that there 114 stab wounds.
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Aiden Fucci, the 14-year-old boy charged with the murder of Florida teenager Tristyn Bailey, 13, has been charged as an adult with first degree murder.
‘At least 49 of those were to the hands, arms and head and were defensive.
‘Premeditation can be inferred from just the sheer number of stab wounds that Tristyn Bailey had to suffer. Every time that arm went back, and every time that arm went down, that was premeditation and it happened 228 times.
‘It’s not just the fact she was stabbed 114 times – it’s also information that we were able to glean from witnesses.
‘The defendant made statements to several people that he intended to kill someone. He didn’t say who that was but he indicated that he was going to kill someone by taking them into the woods and stabbing them which are certainly the facts of this case.’
‘A knife was found in the pond, very close in proximity to our victim’s body. The tip of the knife was located by the medical examiner in the scalp of our victim.’
Larizza said that he’d never dealt with such a violent crime in his entire career.
He said DNA evidence helped solidify his decision – Aiden’s DNA was found on Tristyn and Tristyn’s was found on Aiden’s clothes and the knife.
‘The juvenile system is geared for kids with drug issues maybe, or who commit non violent crime. When you get kids that get tot his level of violence, the time and accountability is not there the adult system is where this case belongs.
‘It was not a difficult decision to make. It’s a sad decision and a sad state of affairs but it was clear to us after we looked at what happened that it was not only appropriate but it was really the only choice we could make.
Aiden posted this selfie on social media after being taken in for questioning. Sheriffs say the ‘egregious’ post shows he was proud of what he did
Tristyn’s family reported her missing on Sunday at 10am. She was last seen at midnight by them, and cops say she was last accounted for at around 1.15am. By 6pm on Sunday, her body had been found
State’s Attorney RJ Larizza said on Thursday it was a ‘sad’ but easy decision to charge Fucci as an adult and that they had no other choice given the severity of the crime
The teenagers were last seen walking near the Durbin Amenity Center in St John’s at 1.45am. It’s unclear what she was doing there or if Aiden was with her
‘She was fighting for her life. It’s just sad that we even have to talk about that,’ Larizza said on Thursday.
He added there was no indication that Fucci suffers mental health problems or had been seeking treatment for it. He refused to say if Fucci had confessed to the killing.
‘These kids, they’re teenagers, they have their groups and hangout. It started out as just a few kids getting together and hanging out but it didn’t end that way,’ he said.
In Florida, first degree murder can become capital murder if prosecutors can prove that the murder was ‘especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel’, or if it was ‘committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.’
Sheriffs have been strong in their criticism of Fucci and unreserved in their public horror at the way in which Tristyn died.
She was stabbed a ‘horrific’ number of times in a ‘cold blooded’ act of murder, St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said earlier this month.
He had posted on Snapchat a selfie from the back of a cop car with the snide caption ‘anyone seen Tristyn?’
Larizza said on Thursday that the Snapchat post indicated how he had no remorse for his actions.
Fucci’s next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.