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Family Of Slain Tristyn Bailey, 13, Says It's A 'Travesty To Not See What She Would Have Done,' Ahead Of Killer's Sentencing
The sentencing hearing for 16-year-old Aiden Fucci, who stabbed classmate Tristyn Bailey, 13, 114 times on Mother's Day in 2021, began Tuesday. The slain girl's family issued an emotional statement before the hearing began.
The sentencing hearing for a Florida teen who fatally stabbed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey 114 times in 2021 began Tuesday morning, with a medical examiner going into graphic detail about the girl's wounds.
Aiden Fucci, who is now 16, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on Feb. 6, just before jury selection for his murder trial was slated to begin. "I just want to say I plead guilty and I'm sorry for the Bailey family and my family," Fucci said in court last month after entering the plea.
Shortly after Tuesday's hearing began at 9 a.m., the court heard testimony from a detective who responded to what was originally a search for Bailey, before her body was found in the woods at around 6 p.m. on May 9, 2021 in the Durbin Crossing area where she and Fucci lived, according to News4JAX.
Later Tuesday, Volusia County Medical Examiner James Fulcher went into detail about the dozens of stab wounds Bailey suffered, as photos of the teen's autopsy were viewed by the judge and attorneys. The graphic images could not be seen by the rest of the court, according to News4JAX.
Bailey's body was discovered in a remote wooded area near a retention pond in St. John's County on Mother's Day of 2021, after the cheerleader was reported missing from her home. Her death was caused by "force trauma by stabbing," coroners concluded.
Fucci faces a minimum sentence of 40 years in prison for the grisly slaying. The death penalty was not an option in the case because he is a minor, 14 at the time of the fatal stabbing, though he was charged as an adult.
Circuit Judge Lee Smith said before the sentencing hearing that he would not sentence Fucci right away. Typically, witnesses, family and friends of the victim and the convicted give statements to the judge for consideration. In this case, according to News4JAX, Smith has already received hundreds of pages of victim impact statements on Bailey's behalf.
“Fear is never something you want your children to face in their home! My daughter had many interactions with Aiden, but when you attend the same school and ride the same bus, it’s impossible to avoid," wrote one neighbor, according to the outlet. "Some of the many questions my daughter has: ‘Will Aiden ever get out of prison? If Aiden killed his friend, will he kill me? and can we move so Aiden won’t know where we live anymore.’”
Another local parent wrote in an impact statement: "My husband and I say that there was the life we knew before Tristyn was murdered, and the life we know after it. There are some events that are simply a defining moment, a moment from which you can never fully recover and a moment that leaves you forever changed. This is one of those moments for us and our family.”
Bailey's own family, consisting of her sisters Brittney Bailey Russell, Alexis Bailey and Sophia Bailey, her brother Teegan Bailey, and parents Stacy and Forrest, issued a statement ahead of Fucci's sentencing, remembering the slain girl and sharing photos.
"To her family, Tristyn fulfilled every role to the fullest. As the baby of the family, she is treasured in every way," Bailey's family wrote in the heart-wrenching statement. "She was absolutely adored by her grandparents and spent much time with them even managing to get the most attention as a baby from her grandad than any sibling before her.
"As a daughter, Tristyn always exceeded the expectations that were put in front of her," they added. "She was dedicated and thoughtful. Stacy and Tristyn enjoyed a great many memories from cheer weekends and enjoyed a close bond. Tristyn’s best role may have been as a sibling. She was always able to engage with each of them. When any one of them had anything to do, she was the first to go with them."
Bailey's family also described her as taking her role as a base in stunt groups during her competitive cheering very seriously. "Her teammates recall the ever-present encouragement Tristyn would give," they wrote. "Her coaches have been very complimentary of her willingness to fill in for injured team members on different squads until they could return.
"While Tristyn was a good student, she truly excelled in connecting with her classmates. Many have reached out and shared how when they struggled to have a friend, she was the constant friendly voice talking to them, saying hello and including them. The connections she made and the development of many of them to take her spirit forward has been inspiring."
After mentioning the widespread impact the teen made in her 13 short years, the family added, "It is a travesty to not see what she would have done."