Judge addresses motions filed by Aiden Fucci’s defense ahead of sentencing

Sentencing set to begin Tuesday for teen who pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder in death of St. Johns County schoolmate Tristyn Bailey

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Ahead of Aiden Fucci’s sentencing, the defense filed several late motions Friday on his behalf, and there was a hearing Monday afternoon on those motions.

Judge R. Lee Smith had to address the motions before the sentencing of Fucci, who pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder in the death of his 13-year-old St. Johns County schoolmate Tristyn Bailey. The plea came just minutes before jury selection was set to begin in his trial.

The first motion said the defense anticipates the state calling witnesses to testify to allegations of Fucci’s behavior while in jail. According to jail reports, the teenager got into fights and threatened to kill inmates, corrections officers and their families. The defense argued that Fucci hasn’t been tried or convicted for any of his behavior in jail.

Another motion wanted to prohibit state witnesses from mentioning alleged prior bad acts. The motion said those were mostly documented in school and never resulted in an arrest. The motion reminded the court that Fucci has no prior arrests or convictions.

For the alleged prior bad acts in school and in jail, Smith reminded both sides during Monday’s hearing that there’s no jury and that he’s going to decide what weight to give those events as they are raised in the sentencing hearing.

And in the last motion, the defense said it wanted to prohibit testimony from Dr. Gregory Prichard, a state-picked psychologist. The defense chose not to bring up mental health testimony, but if the court denied this motion, the defense said that it would be obligated to call an expert in rebuttal of Prichard. The motion said his testimony would lack proper foundation because Prichard never did an in-person evaluation of Fucci, so his opinions would be “unduly prejudicial.”

During Monday’s hearing, Smith said that he will allow Prichard to testify, and Fucci’s lawyer said she will now also have a psychologist testify. So forensic psychologist Dr. Steven Bloomfield could be called in rebuttal of what the state’s psychologist will say. Neither has done an in-person evaluation of Fucci.

Bailey was found stabbed to death on May 9, 2021, Mother’s Day, in Durbin Crossing, less than a half-mile from Fucci’s home in the neighborhood where Bailey also lived. Fucci, who was 14 at the time, was arrested in the early morning hours of the next day.

Sentencing for Fucci is scheduled to begin Tuesday. News4JAX was told the state will start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and there will be victim impact statements, and then the defense will start Wednesday.

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