ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The 14-year-old accused of killing his 13-year-old schoolmate Tristyn Bailey earlier this month is now in the juvenile wing of the Duval County jail awaiting his arraignment in st. Johns County on a first-degree murder charge.
Aiden Fucci, 14, will be tried as an adult in the stabbing death of Bailey, State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced Thursday.
Fucci had been in custody at the Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Daytona Beach since his arrest on May 10 but was transported Friday morning to St. Johns County by the Sheriff’s Office for his first appearance.
Fucci, who was initially charged with second-degree murder, appeared virtually before Judge Howard M. Maltz on the upgraded charge Friday morning and was ordered to be held without bond.
After the first appearance, St. Johns County deputies transported Fucci to the Duval County Jail because St. Johns County’s jail does not have a juvenile wing.
“I would like to thank Sheriff Mike Williams and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for assisting our agency in this way,” Sheriff Rob Hardwick said. “This is going to be a long road for the Bailey family and our community. Please continue to respect their privacy and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
If convicted, Fucci could face up to life in prison, but because of his age, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
Fucci is expected to be arraigned on the upgraded first-degree murder charge within a week. His public defender did not object to the judge’s order that Fucci be held without bond Friday but said a motion for bond might be filed later.
Bond is not typically granted in first-degree murder cases.
Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, said no matter how heinous the crime may be, the Supreme Court ruled that minors can’t face the death penalty.
“His mental health is going to be brought up to see if he is competent to stand trial,” he added. “I know that’s going to be the focus, this child’s mental health. If he is not competent to stand trial, then there’s going to be actions that will be taken to send him potentially to a facility until he’s competent to stand trial. So that will be the first thing that will be questioned.”
Nichols said he felt confident this case would end with a murder conviction and a life sentence.
“If he is competent and he is able to stand trial, then you’ll be able to see a conviction for first-degree murder,” he said.
Larizza gave an update on the case Thursday afternoon, saying investigators have collected a large amount of evidence in the case, including the suspected murder weapon and Bailey’s DNA that was found on shoes and a T-shirt located in Fucci’s bedroom.
Larizza said Bailey was stabbed 114 times and a knife believed to belong to Fucci was found in a pond near where Bailey’s body was found.
“The executive team and I reviewed all the facts, all the circumstances, the applicable law and it was not a difficult decision to make that he should be charged as an adult,” Larizza said. “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 to charge the defendant as an adult, but it was really the only choice that we could make.”
Larizza added that Fucci made statements to friends that he planned to kill someone by taking them into the woods and stabbing them.
Fucci is the lone suspect in Bailey’s murder.
On Monday, a circuit judge appointed the Public Defender’s Office to take over the case after Fucci’s private attorney, Anwar Snober, withdrew for unknown reasons. A judge found Fucci’s parents indigent and unable to pay for a private lawyer. Assistant Public Defender Joshua Mosley is the attorney assigned to represent Fucci.
Bailey’s body was found on Mother’s Day near a retention pond in a cul-de-sac in the Durbin Crossing subdivision, less than a half-mile from Fucci’s home, according to an arrest report. The discovery was made by a neighbor out for a walk around 6 p.m., roughly eight hours after Bailey’s family called 911 to report her missing.
Earlier this month, thousands of community members signed change.org petitions, asking the State Attorney’s Office and Gov. Ron DeSantis to charge Fucci as an adult and with first-degree murder.
After Larizza’s announcement Thursday, Bailey’s family issued a statement: