ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. (Court TV) — A Florida teenager facing 40 years to life for the brutal murder of his 13-year-old classmate lied to investigators, according to newly released audio of his initial police interview.
Aiden Fucci, then 14, misled investigators hours before Tristyn Bailey’s body was found riddled with stab wounds in a neighborhood pond in Saint Johns, Florida, on Mother’s Day 2021. Surveillance video showed Fucci and Bailey together around the time of her disappearance.
Fucci admitted to being the last person to see her and gave police conflicting statements about the time they spent together. In one of the recorded interviews with Detective Kim Pelluso, Fucci can be heard sending detectives down the wrong trail to find Bailey, who was just a missing person at the time. Fucci said police could find Bailey on a path he described as, “a place to like chill out and do acid or just smoke weed.”
Aiden: “It’s like a trail that goes super deep down.”
Officer: “Down into the woods? Okay. Have you heard from her at all? No? Okay. So, are you willing to kind of give me a statement about what’s going on with her?”
Aiden: “Yeah. So, we we’re at Tre’s House, and I stayed there until probably, like, 1:50 a.m. and now, it is really late to be home, so I just had to leave, or else my mom would like, seriously just kill me.”
Aiden: “So, we started walking home, and then next to, like, where that brick wall starts up there is where she touched my di** and I, like, pushed her off real hard. And then I just kind of, like, walked away in anger.”
Hours after this conversation, a jogger found Bailey’s body in a neighborhood pond with 114 stab wounds concentrated around her head, neck, hands, and back.
Fucci’s stories began to unravel after a search of his bedroom uncovered a blood-stained shirt and shoes investigators said were linked to the savage attack on Bailey.
Police later arrested Fucci, who recorded a series of Snapchat videos from inside the back of the patrol car, laughing and swearing. Later, Fucci can be heard using his voice to text a friend after his phone was confiscated.
According to investigators, Fucci’s friend and girlfriend said he contemplated killing a person for some time. Prosecutors said Fucci lured the cheerleader to the woods and allegedly fulfilled a long-held fantasy of murder.
“With the detailed and exemplary investigative work of the Saint Johns County Sheriff’s Office, along with the trial preparation by the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, we are confident that the jury would have returned a guilty verdict,” said Bailey’s parents and four siblings, who refer to themselves at the “Bailey 7.”
Fucci’s sentencing is set for March 21 and is expected to last up to two days. As many as 41 witnesses could possibly testify, according to witness lists filed by both the prosecution and the defense.
For adults, first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole in Florida. Because of his age, Fucci faces anywhere from 40 years to life in prison and is eligible for a review of his sentence after 25 years.
Circuit Judge R. Lee Smith asked Fucci a series of questions to confirm the plea was his choice and that he was satisfied with his attorneys’ guidance on Feb. 6. The judge also confirmed with Fucci’s defense that his plea was not a result of negotiations with the state, but what’s known as a “straight” or “open” plea that leaves the sentencing decision in the judge’s hands.
“Your honor, we have presented several defense offers and they’ve all been rejected by the state,” public defender Rosemary Peoples told the judge.
Bailey’s family confirmed they were not open to a plea deal for Fucci.
“Just as Tristyn fought for her life, we equally fought for her and would not agree to any plea deal. We were fully aligned with the Prosecutor in rejecting the proposed plea deals mentioned by the Public Defender during the plea hearing.”
Court TV’s Emanuella Grinberg and Beth Hemphill contributed to this story.