(ST.JOHNS COUNTY, Fla.) — A 14-year-old Florida boy will be tried as an adult for first-degree, premeditated murder in the gruesome stabbing death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey earlier this month in Florida, officials announced.
Aiden Fucci’s case was moved from juvenile to adult court, State Attorney R. J. Larizza said during a press conference Thursday.
Fucci was initially charged with second-degree murder but did not have time to enter a plea before his charges were upgraded, the State Attorney’s Office of the 7th Circuit told ABC News. Larizza explained the decision was made to charge him as an adult given the brutality of the case.
Bailey was reported missing to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office on May 9. Her family said she was last seen around midnight. A sprawling search was launched and at 6 p.m. her body was discovered in the immediate area near a retention pond, according to the arrest report.
Fucci was identified as a suspect in the case and was arrested, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said in a May 11 news release.
“It brings me no pleasure to be charging a 14-year-old as an adult with first degree murder. It was clear to us after we look at what happened that it was not only appropriate to charge the defendant as an adult, but it was really the only charge we could make,” Larizza said Thursday.
He offered new grisly details about her murder, noting there were 114 stab wounds found on Bailey, citing the medical examiner report, and at least 49 of those wounds were to the hands, arms and head that were defensive in nature.
“She was fighting for life,” Larizza said. “To say it was horrific could arguably be made as an understatement.”
Larizza added: “[Fucci] indicated to witnesses that he was going to kill someone by taking them into the woods and stabbing them. The statement that the defendant made to his friends made it clear he was considering a homicide.”
Fucci’s alleged statements were never reported to police, Larizza noted.
Larizza said the knife Fucci carried in the brutal attack was found in a nearby pond. Its broken tip was discovered in the girl’s skull by the medical examiner.
He said investigators found Fucci’s DNA on Tristyn’s body and her DNA was found on the knife, on Fucci’s shoes and on a T-shirt in his bedroom.
“I just want to say that I hope parents will learn something from this vicious, and brutal, murder. And that is you need to know what your kids are doing and what they’re saying. While we might not be able stop these vicious and brutal murders from happening, we ought to at least try,” Larizza said.
Fucci made his first court appearance on the new charges on Friday, appearing virtually via Zoom.
In the procedural hearing, Judge Howard M. Maltz informed Fucci of his rights, the charges and the probable cause to detain him. He will remain in jail without bond Maltz said. Fucci will be arraigned “in the next week or two,” local ABC affiliate WJXX reported.
He has not entered a plea. ABC News has reached out to Fucci’s defense attorney for comment.
The Bailey family also released a statement following Thursday’s announcement.
“We appreciate that today’s outcome is directly the result of the thorough and comprehensive work from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office along with the 7th District State Attorney’s office as part of the initial steps to bring justice for Tristyn’s murder,” the statement, shared with WJXX, said. “The caring and love shown from the people and businesses to raise up the memory of Tristyn and the resolve of our community serve as a beacon of light in the darkness. As shared in the Celebration of Life on the battle of the two wolves, it helps us to feed the good wolf,” citing an old Native American tale her father shared at her memorial service.
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