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Florida Teen Accused Of Stabbing Cheerleader 114 Times Denied Transfer Out Of Solitary Confinement
A county judge ruled Aiden Fucci — who's accused of murdering 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey — will remain in solitary confinement at a Duval County Jail until his trial.
A Florida teenager accused of stabbing a cheerleader 114 times will remain in solitary confinement despite his lawyers' efforts.
Aiden Fucci is accused of stabbing 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey to death in a case that continues to shake St. Johns County, Florida. During a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, a county judge rejected several motions filed by the 15-year-old suspect’s defense, including an attempt to have their client moved out of solitary confinement at the Duval County Jail ahead of the murder trial, according to Jacksonville’s WJXT.
Fucci was placed in Duval County because the St. Johns County jail does not have the accommodations to house a juvenile. However, Fucci is being tried as an adult on charges of first-degree murder.
Bailey’s family reported her missing on Mother’s Day 2021, and a volunteer searcher found her body hours later near a retention pond in Durbin Crossing — just south of Jacksonville and less than half a mile from then-14-year-old Fucci’s home.
Surveillance video discovered later showed Bailey and a suspect — believed to be Fucci — walking in the area around 1:45 a.m.. The two had attended Patriot Oaks Academy together before the girl's murder.
Additional surveillance video captured the suspect running back by himself more than an hour later.
Fucci was arrested the next day and published a Snapchat post of himself in the backseat of a patrol car without handcuffs. He captioned it with, “Hey guys has inybody [sic] seen Tristyn lately?” while holding up a peace sign with his hand. Police also released other videos he took while in the back of a patrol care
While in custody, investigators said Fucci’s story “changed several times” and that he gave “several admissions.” Among them, he allegedly told police that she grabbed at him when he tried to kiss her, he pushed her and she fell and hit her head.
He was arrested shortly after Bailey's body was found 18 months ago and has been in jail ever since.
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According to the 215-page motion filed on Nov. 18, Fucci spent more than 400 days in those 18 months “in a form of solitary confinement” and “was denied access” to the rest of the general population and their afforded privileges, including meals outside his cell and religious services. (He has been in custody for a total of 583 days.)
“Defense investigation has revealed the defendant is held in solitary confinement, currently for threats of violence against the defendant within the jail in May 2022," the lawyer stated. "And previously, for a disciplinary action in January 2022 and suicidal ideations in 2021,” the motion stated.
St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick — who previously referred to Bailey’s murder as “cold-blooded” — filed a motion through his own attorneys to keep Fucci where he is, according to WJXT.
Hardwick alleged that allowing Fucci’s transfer out of solitary would violate the state’s “separation of powers.”
Fucci’s defense had also moved for a change of venue, blaming “ubiquitous pre-trial publicity” and “community hostility” for why Fucci might not have a fair trial in St. Johns and neighboring counties, according to First Coast News.
To support their argument, the defense referenced numerous teal-colored ribbons hung in the victim’s honor in the days after her death and no less than nine events to memorialize the 13-year-old, as well as other “various remembrances,” according to WJXT.
They also cited comments by State Attorney R.J. Larizza in which Larizza claimed that Fucci gave “statements to several people that he was going to kill someone,” referencing alleged premeditation.
“The bottom line is that premeditation could be inferred, certainly from just the sheer number of stab wounds that Tristyn Bailey suffered,” Larizza stated.
St. Johns County Judge R. Lee Smith rejected the defense’s motion to have the trial moved but said he might reconsider his decision down the line if an impartial jury could not be assembled.
Fucci’s mother, Crystal Smith, was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Bailey’s murder. Surveillance video from inside her and Fucci’s home allegedly shows her taking Fucci’s jeans and scrubbing them of blood.
Both mother and son have pleaded not guilty.
Crystal Smith is expected to face trial in April, according to Jacksonville CBS affiliate WJAX-TV.
Jury selection for Fucci’s trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6 and is expected to last three to four days.
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