ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The mother of the teenager accused of killing Tristyn Bailey last month tried to wash blood off his jeans hours after the 13-year-old St. Johns County girl was stabbed to death, according to investigators.
Crystal Lane Smith, 35, was booked into the St. Johns County jail at 11:50 a.m. Saturday on a charge of tampering with evidence, which is a third-degree felony in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office said. The jail website shows she was released on a $25,000 bond at 1:40 p.m.
Smith’s son, Aiden Fucci, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Bailey, who was reported missing on May 9 -- Mother’s Day -- around 10 a.m.
Investigators have said Fucci is the lone suspect in Bailey’s murder. According to investigators, the two were spotted on home surveillance video walking together in the Durbin Crossing community around 1:45 a.m. May 9. The same camera captured one person, matching Fucci’s description, walking back alone a couple of hours later, according to court documents. He was wearing blue jeans.
According to her arrest warrant, after Fucci went with investigators the afternoon of May 9 for questioning in Bailey’s disappearance, Smith was seen on surveillance video inside her house washing Fucci’s blue jeans, which later tested positive for blood. The drain in the sink, where Smith was seen washing the jeans, also tested positive for blood, according to the arrest warrant.
“Tampering with evidence is tampering with justice and cannot be excused or tolerated,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in a news release.
Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not connected to the case, said it’s likely Smith’s arrest took weeks because investigators were trying to get her to admit to the charge.
“As soon as his clothes made it to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, it was evident to them that the clothes had been washed,” Nichols said. “I’m sure Mr. Larizza’s office recognizes this is a mother trying to protect her son and made some bad decisions in order to do so.”
He said it’s unlikely her case will move forward until Fucci’s case is finished in court.
“She will present in felony court the same way her son did,” Nichols said.
Fucci, who will be tried as an adult in Bailey’s murder, has pleaded not guilty. He is slated to appear in court for a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. July 28.
If convicted, Fucci could face up to life in prison, but because of his age, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
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.