ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – After two days in court and hours of heartbreaking testimony, attorneys on Wednesday delivered closing arguments in Aiden Fucci’s sentencing hearing.
Fucci pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of his 13-year-old schoolmate, Tristyn Bailey.
At 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton recapped the state’s argument to keep Fucci behind bars for the rest of his life.
Dunton spoke directly to Judge R. Lee Smith and broke down her closing starting with the nature and circumstances of the offense. Dunton explained the images Smith viewed of Bailey’s body would be a visual he wouldn’t soon forget.
Even without seeing the photos, the testimony explained how 49 of her 114 stab wounds were defensive--meaning Bailey was conscious and alive during the attack.
RELATED: ‘He is beyond saving’: Tristyn Bailey’s family asks for maximum sentence for killer in emotional hearing
(Click image below to watch Wednesday’s closing arguments)
Dunton also referred to testimony of the force it must have taken to cause the amount of wounds, and that six of the wounds would have been fatal.
Dunton then spoke of the circumstances that led up to the crime, “the defendant’s verbalization that he wanted to kill someone.” Fucci told this to his girlfriend, court records show.
“He said it would be at night, he would drag someone into the woods and he would stab them, and it would happen within a month. He said he would act innocent, keep killing and run away,” Dunton said.
She then referred to Dr. Gregory Prichard’s testimony.
“He said that this act was extremely unique, and extremely violent for anyone to commit, let alone a juvenile,” Dunton said.
Dunton then gave statistics that show how homicides among juveniles are rare and unique. And that the outliers, incorrigible juveniles, deserve the worst punishment.
She said Fucci is one of them.
Dunton then moved on to the victimization of the Bailey family. She explained how the family and the community have suffered immeasurable loss — that this is a unique case that touched the community in a unique way.
The vigils, the memorials, the more than 100 letters written to the judge.
Dunton then referenced testimony about Fucci’s disciplinary problems in school and the comparison to similar children his age.
“They all stated that he knew the difference between right and wrong, and he understood risk and consequences. It’s just whether he wanted to or not,” she said.
Fucci’s parents and grandmother were also mentioned in Dunton’s closing arguments. She talked about how there was no report of abuse or neglect in Fucci’s household.
Dunton made a point of Fucci’s impetuous behavior. She then spoke directly to the judge.
“For all the evidence we presented in this case, of all of the factors in showing you who Aiden Fucci is, the uniqueness of this crime, all of that shows you that this particular juvenile should be sentenced to the harshest penalty possible, which is life in prison. And he will be entitled to a 25-year review,” Dunton said.
When defense attorney Rosemarie Peoples took to the podium for closings, she said, “When this kind of crime visits a family, every word the defense has to say, every motion, every argument can only seem like minimization of the pain to the family and survivors.”
“But we can’t go backwards in time,” Peoples added. “We can’t undo the action. The only thing that we can do today is answer the question of a sentence.”
Peoples showed the court photos of a happy and very young Fucci.
She then spoke about what Fucci did not do after the crime. He didn’t bury the body or try to hide it.
During Peoples’ closing argument, she continued to show various photos of Fucci smiling as a young child.
Peoples talked about Fucci’s maturity and how his brain will continue to form and grow. She spoke about how he apologized on Feb. 6, the first time he was allowed to speak in open court. Peoples reminded the judge that her client is a child, and not mature.
“We heard that he was neglected emotionally, that his father was physically abusive, and there is the constant movement. Every Tuesday and Thursday and every other weekend he was in a different house,” Peoples said.
Fucci’s family history with mental illness was also included in the closing argument. Peoples also spoke about Fucci’s diagnosis of ADHD, and that he didn’t get the therapy he needed.
“The 40-year sentence doesn’t make light of what happened on Mother’s Day in 2021. It still is punishment,” Peoples said.
The defense asked that Fucci be sentenced to 40 years with a 25-year review, instead of life in prison with a 25-year review.
Judge Smith will pronounce sentence on Fucci in court on Friday.