'No respect for life': Aiden Fucci gets only appropriate sentence for Tristyn Bailey slaying

“Heinous, atrocious and cruel,” a crime orchestrated for no other reason than to feel what it’s like to kill someone. This factor alone is why Judge. R. Lee Smith said there could be only one appropriate sentence for 16-year-old Aiden Fucci: life in prison.

Fucci faced a minimum 40 years after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in February in the 2021 stabbing death of his friend and classmate Tristyn Bailey after hanging out in their Durbin Crossing neighborhood in St. Johns County. She was 13 and Fucci 14 at the time.

It wasn’t about greed, retaliation, revenge, rejection or some fit of uncontrollable anger, Smith said in court Friday. “This crime had no motive.”

"It was done for no other reason than to satisfy this defendant’s internal desire to feel what it was like to kill someone," the judge said. "It was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense for moral or legal justification."

Everything to know about the case:Aiden Fucci stabbed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey 114 times

Grief, despair, anger and anxiety:Tristyn Bailey's family describes never-ending torment Aiden Fucci has put them through

"Aiden Fucci, you have destroyed me":Tristyn Bailey's family reads victim impact statements at Aiden Fucci's sentencing

Long awaited: Here's what Aiden Fucci and parents have to say in Tristyn Bailey slaying

He said his court has seen its share of autopsy photos, but these were particularly difficult. He repeated what has become common knowledge in the case, that Tristyn endured 114 stab wounds, 49 of which were deemed defensive according to the medical examiner.

“She suffered a painful, horrifying death from someone she trusted,” Smith said.

Fucci had told friends he was going to kill someone and even talked about taking them into the woods, Smith said. He wanted to watch them bleed out.

"There was a heightened level of premeditation in this case,” the judge said.

Speaking on behalf of Fucci during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Deborah Spiwak told the judge she knew her grandson had to be punished for his actions but pleaded, "Please don't take him out of our lives forever ... I know there's some good in Aiden."

Smith also had to consider several other factors such as Fucci’s age, mental capacity, background, effect on the victim’s family and possibility of rehabilitation.

Through his review, he determined Fucci had a fairly normal home environment. He acknowledge the boy did have some learning and discipline issues in school, and the defense noted he discussed hearing voices inside his head.

But everything led Smith to the maximum sentence. Under Florida law, after 25 years his sentence can be reviewed. But 40 years would still be the minimum.

“I would submit this case was the most difficult and shocking that this county has dealt with,” Smith said.

To the Bailey family, he noted their obvious struggles coping with such devastation.

Alexis Bailey, left, one of the sisters of Tristyn Bailey, hugs one of Tristyn's friends after Friday's sentencing of Aiden Fucci. Judge R. Lee Smith sentenced Fucci, 16, to life in prison for killing 13-year-old Tristyn in their St. Johns County community on Mother's Day 2021.
Alexis Bailey, left, one of the sisters of Tristyn Bailey, hugs one of Tristyn's friends after Friday's sentencing of Aiden Fucci. Judge R. Lee Smith sentenced Fucci, 16, to life in prison for killing 13-year-old Tristyn in their St. Johns County community on Mother's Day 2021.

“The loss in which you have clearly suffered is unimaginable,” he said. “The court was certainly moved by their words and victim impact statements this week.”

He reminded them that this sentence cannot heal them but can close a chapter.

“However, her spirit lives on through each and every one of you,” he said, and advised them to fill her physical void by letting go of some of their anger. “She would want that happiness and laughter to return.”

Fucci, much like he’s done throughout the court proceedings, showed little reaction. The Baileys hugged and later addressed the media with State Attorney R.J. Larizza and Sheriff Robert Hardwick. The family members, known as “The Bailey 7,” wore white tops with "That's My Squad" in Tristyn’s favorite color aqua and "Tristyn Bailey Strong" overlapping like a signature.

Surrounded by family and supporters, Forrest Bailey, the father of Tristyn Bailey, addresses the media and the community outside the St. Johns County Courthouse after Aiden Fucci was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. In February, Fucci pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of 13-year-old Tristyn.
Surrounded by family and supporters, Forrest Bailey, the father of Tristyn Bailey, addresses the media and the community outside the St. Johns County Courthouse after Aiden Fucci was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. In February, Fucci pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of 13-year-old Tristyn.

“We are very appreciative of this outcome and feel that it is the right verdict considering how heinous the crime is and Aiden's behavior around it,” Tristyn’s father, Forrest Bailey, said.

Speaking for the family, he spent several minutes expressing their utmost appreciation for so many people involved — from the obvious law enforcement, attorneys and judge to their families, the community, bailiffs, counselors and some of the media. He encouraged the latter, and the many social media sites, to focus more on the victims and not so much the horrid details and "lightning” cases.

He also cautioned parents and children about the dangers of social media and technology. To the Fuccis, he said aside from his grandmother they felt insincerity in their apologies. If they’re sorry, he said, they should start accepting responsibility. But he also said Fucci’s extended family shouldn’t be treated poorly for something he did on his own.

Tristyn’s father asked God to remind her how extremely proud they are of her and the type of person she was and all she embraced.


“In the days ahead, we’re going to talk more about Tristyn and plans to continue her legacy,” her father said. “... We will always be the Bailey 7.”

Hardwick made a point to clarify that. “Together with the Sheriff’s Office you’re the Bailey 927,” he said. The sheriff said despite the circumstances of Mother’s Day 2021, “the Sheriff’s Office got the privilege to meet the Bailey family.”

Larizza, too, spoke of how the family has handled this with such “dignity and grace.” Twenty-two months of court proceedings, media coverage and repeatedly hearing details of what happened, “try to put yourself in their shoes,” he said twice. “It is incomprehensible what this family had to go through.”

He and Hardwick agreed this is the most egregious crime they’ve seen in their lengthy careers.

Larizza said he’s not sure why all of the youth violence is taking place.

“Young people don’t seem to have respect for life,” Larizza said. “Aiden Fucci certainly didn’t. He said he was going to kill someone, and he did. Now we deal with the aftermath.”

What happened to Tristyn Bailey?

Tristyn was reported missing by her family at 10 a.m. on Mother's Day, May 9, 2021. Evidence revealed that she and Aiden Fucci had been at a friend's home in their Durbin Crossing neighborhood in northwest St. Johns County and were last seen walking together after 1 a.m. that morning. Seventeen hours later, her body was discovered in the woods off a neighborhood cul-de-sac.

What happened to Tristyn Bailey? Here's everything you need to know

How did Tristyn Bailey die?

According to Chief Medical Examiner Predrag Bulic, the cause of Tristyn's death was "sharp force trauma by stabbing." An autopsy revealed Tristyn had 114 "stab or cutting wounds about her head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and back," according to an unredacted warrant affidavit released by the state attorney. Forty-nine of those wounds were deemed defensive wounds by the medical examiner.

Timeline: Events in the disappearance, death of Tristyn Bailey

Saturday, May 8, 2021

  • 11:45 p.m.: Bailey family returns home after an evening out.

  • Around midnight: Tristyn Bailey last seen by a sibling and was supposed to be sleeping in her bedroom.

Sunday, May 9

  • 12:30 a.m.: Video shows Tristyn walking in the neighborhood

  • 1:14 a.m.: Two people, believed to be Tristyn and Aiden, were seen walking together

  • 1:45 a.m.: Video evidence from a home shows Tristyn and Aiden walking east on Saddlestone Drive

  • 3:30 a.m.: Video from the same home shows a person believed to be Aiden heading in opposite direction alone, carrying white Nike shoes. Moments later, video shows Aiden entering his home carrying white Nike shoes

  • 10 a.m.: Tristyn's mother calls 911 to report the teen missing. Florida Department of Law Enforcement joins search

  • 4:49 p.m.: Florida Missing Child Alert issued for Tristyn

  • 6:06 p.m.: A resident who had been on a run called to report a dead body in the woods east of the cul-de-sac on Saddlestone Drive. After identifying the body as Tristyn's, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office calls off the search

  • 8 p.m.: Sheriff's Office announces body found and preliminarily identified as Tristyn Bailey

  • 8:49 p.m.: Aiden and his parents are placed in a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office interview room

Monday, May 10

  • 12:44 a.m.: Investigators search Fucci home, finding a knife sheath; a pair of wet, white Nike shoes with blood on them; a T-shirt with blood on it; a white piece of paper with handwriting with possible blood on it; and a pair of wet blue denim jeans in a laundry basket. They also find blood and dirt on the drain in the bathroom sink next to Aiden's bedroom.

  • 3:30 a.m.: Aiden arrested on charge of second-degree murder

  • 11:30 a.m.: Sheriff's Office confirms identity of body found as that of Tristyn Bailey and announces arrest of Aiden Fucci, a 14-year-old classmate, on charges of second-degree murder. (Two weeks later, Fucci was charged with first-degree murder.)

More details:Events in the disappearance, death of Florida 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey

What happened to Tristyn Bailey? Court records detail what happened the night she was killed

Other notable Jacksonville-area child murders, abductions

Nov. 6, 2019: Taylor Rose Williams, 5, is reported missing around 7:20 a.m. by her mother, Brianna Williams, at their Brentwood home. Days later, her remains were discovered in a wooded area between Demopolis and Linden, Ala., and her mother was arrested on charges of child neglect and giving false information to investigators.

July 24, 2015: Lonzie Barton, 21 months, is reported missing at 2:20 a.m. by William Ruben Ebron Jr., the boyfriend of his mother, Lonna Lauramore Barton. Ebron said his car, with Lonzie inside, had been stolen from his apartment building’s parking lot and he was unable to chase it down. But residential security video later surfaced showing him staging the car theft, police said. Ebron lead police to the toddler’s body on Jan. 11, 2016. Ebron is in prison until 2040; Lonna Lauramore Barton was sentenced to five years in prison for her role in Lonzie’s death and another seven years on a drug charge.

June 22, 2013: Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, is abducted from a Jacksonville Walmart, raped and murdered. Perrywinkle’s body was found hours later and Donald James Smith, 56, a sexual offender with a history of crimes against children, was arrested. Smith was found guilty on Valentine’s Day 2018 and sentenced to death in December 2018.

Feb. 10, 2010: Makia Ann Coney, 17,  a student at University Christian School, is shot and killed by classmates Charles Roy Southern, 17, and Connor Julian Pridgen, 16, after school.

Oct. 19, 2009: Somer Thompson, 7, is last seen at 2:45 p.m. walking home from Grove Park Elementary School on Gano Avenue in Orange Park. Two days later, her body was found in a Georgia landfill. In March 2010, Jarred Harrell was arrested and charged with her murder. In February 2012, Harrell pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six life sentences.

Feb. 10, 2009: Haleigh Cummings, 5, is reported missing at 3:17 a.m. from her parents’ home in Satsuma in Putnam County. After more than a decade, she is still missing.

July 29, 2007: Tony Youmans, 12, is last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Hyde Park Road. He was found two days later in a nearby park dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities said he died “while playing around with the firearm.” Derrick Glover, 24, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling the gun that killed Youmans to him.

Nov. 3, 1998: Maddie Clifton, 8, is reported missing at 7 p.m. A week after disappearing, her body was found under the waterbed of her 14-year-old neighbor, Josh Phillips, by the boy’s mother. Phillips was arrested and charged with murder after telling police he accidentally hit Maddie with a baseball, then panicked because he feared getting in trouble. He said he then hit her with a bat and stabbed her to stop her screaming. Tried as an adult, Phillips was found guilty of murder in the first degree in July 1999 and sentenced to life in prison without parole a month later.

July 10, 1998: Kamiyah Mobley is abducted hours after her birth at University Medical Center by a woman posing as a nurse. Nearly 19 years later, on Jan. 13, 2017, Kamiyah was found alive and well, living in South Carolina with her abductor, Gloria Williams. Williams pleaded guilty in May 2018 and later sentenced to 18 years in prison.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Tristyn Bailey's Florida teen killer Aiden Fucci sentenced to life