ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The State Attorney’s Office for the Seventh Judicial Circuit has filed a motion to impanel a six-member jury for the trial of Aiden Fucci, the teen accused of killing 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey, according to St. Johns County court records.
In the motion, the state says that while Fucci is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his St. Johns County schoolmate, it is not a capital case because of his age. He is not eligible for the death penalty, only life in prison.
The state goes on to say that given that reality, state law allows for a six-member jury, not a 12-member jury.
Lee Lockett, a criminal defense attorney not affiliated with this case, says state law allows for this jury size reduction in very specific cases.
“So, naturally, the defense would prefer a 12-person jury because that is going to be a more diverse jury panel,” Lockett said. “It’s going to be more people to convince, there’s going to be 12 people that they have to convince versus just six. So that’s why the state will naturally prefer a six-person jury.”
There has been no response yet from the defense.
“It’s difficult to think of any defenses that the defense attorney is going to have to that motion because a lot of the case law that you read on this issue seems to be mandatory, meaning that the judge is probably going to be obligated to grant the motion because there’s just not a lot of discretion in these situations,” Lockett said.
Fucci’s trial is set for Feb 6. He has a pretrial hearing on Jan. 20.
In the meantime, there are two recent defense filings in which Fucci’s lawyer has asked to be kept confidential. They are still pending.
TIMELINE: The investigation into Tristyn Bailey’s disappearance and death
Fucci, now 16, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Bailey. She was found stabbed to death on Mother’s Day in Durbin Crossing, less than a half-mile from Fucci’s home in the St. Johns County neighborhood where Bailey also lived. Fucci, who was 14 at the time, was arrested in the early morning hours of the next day. Home surveillance videos show the two teens walking through the neighborhood and then only Fucci returning home.
Fucci has been in the Duval County jail pending his trial because the jail in St. Johns County does not have a juvenile wing.