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Trial begins Monday for accused teen killer Aiden Fucci: What to know

Tristyn Bailey was just 13 when she was brutally murdered. Aiden Fucci was 14 at the time he was charged with the crime. Now 16, he will stand trial Monday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Coast News will stream the Aiden Fucci trial on our website, as well as our YouTube channel and Roku app, gavel-to-gavel after jury selection is complete. 

Aiden Fucci, the 16-year-old accused of stabbing his 13-year-old classmate Tristyn Bailey 114 times, will go to trial Monday. It has been postponed several times.

The crime, which took place in St. Johns County, has drawn national attention since Tristyn was killed on May 9, 2021. 

The brutality of the crime, allegedly committed by a then 14-year-old Fucci, was shocking. So was his eerie indifference afterward: an image of Fucci making a peace sign while in the back of a patrol car, asking if anybody had "seen Tristyn lately" went viral after his arrest.

But the crime also struck a cord because of Tristyn's innocence and the love her family and community had for her: A celebration of life held for Tristyn after her death had hundreds in attendance. And over 700,000 people signed a petition pressuring the State Attorney's Office to upgrade Fucci's charges after the crime.

As the state of Florida vs. Fucci begins with jury selection Monday, and prosecutors seek justice for Tristyn, here's what you need to know. 

What happened to Tristyn? 

Tristyn Bailey was reported missing on May 9, 2021. Her family noticed she was missing when her siblings came to wake her up for Mother's Day breakfast and discovered she was missing. 

The last time her family saw her was shortly after midnight, but surveillance video had picked up video of what appeared to be Tristyn as late as 1:45 a.m.

Police later determined she had been with a classmate named Doffs "Tre" Absher III and Fucci at Tre's home before she disappeared.

By the evening of May 9, her body was found near a retention pond by a neighbor who was on a run in a wooded area. 

State Attorney R.J. Larizza later revealed that Tristyn was found with 114 stab wounds. Many of them were defensive -- "she was fighting for her life," he said

The tip of the knife was found by the medical examiner, lodged in Tristyn's skull.

Her cause of death was ruled "sharp force trauma by stabbing." 

What are the charges and possible sentence?

Fucci was originally arrested on charges of second-degree murder. However, he was later indicted by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder. 

Like all first-degree murder cases, he will be tried as an adult. But his age does protect him, by law, from facing the death penalty.

Florida law says that juveniles convicted of first-degree murder are entitled to a sentencing hearing. If Fucci is found guilty, a judge will decide if he faces life in prison or not. 

Regardless of his sentence, because he is a juvenile offender, Fucci's case would be up for review in 25 years. He could be eligible for release at this point -- or a judge could give him more time in prison.

READ MORE: Aiden Fucci could be eligible for release in 25 years, regardless of sentencing

READ MORE: Judge says Aiden Fucci not entitled to a 12-person jury for murder charge

Who is Aiden Fucci? 

A 14-year-old middle school student typically doesn’t have much of a public profile. But since his arrest for murdering his 13-year-old classmate Tristyn Bailey, the now-16-year-old Aiden Fucci has acquired a public record trail of troubling dimensions. 

A portrait of the accused teen murderer can be culled from investigative reports, court documents and interviews with friends.

His friends told deputies Fucci “talked about death and killing all the time,” and frequently drew pictures of mutilated bodies. But they didn’t believe he would actually kill. 

Since being incarcerated, reports from the Duval County Jail show he’s been in several fights, one in which he was pepper sprayed by corrections officers and has  extorted other teen inmates for their commissary, threatening to stab them. 

At an initial court hearing, Fucci appeared to be hearing voices. “Why am I here?” he asked, rocking and looking around the room, mumbling, “I won’t let you demons take my soul.” The incident prompted some speculation that he was faking. But both of Fucci’s friends told detectives he had mental health issues. 

His girlfriend said, “He knew there was something wrong with him. I think he wanted to reach out for help.”

His best friend also told police he had a troubled home life and his violent obsessions were a way of coping.

READ MORE: What we know about Aiden Fucci: 10 essential facts about the accused teen killer

What is the evidence?

In addition to the interviews with his friends, public records show some of the evidence that may be introduced in the trial.

At the time of Fucci's arrest, police said that some of his clothing tested positive for the presence of blood.

Discovery expected to be presented in the case includes unseen photos of Tristyn's body after she was found. Police have publicly released photos of the knife they say was used in the crime. 

Photos of scratch marks on Fucci were also released by police last week.

Additionally, recent reports on Fucci's troubled time in jail include testimony that he has alluded to the crime when talking to other inmates.

One teen told jail officials, “Fucci been saying he gonna stab me up… He go around saying we all p------ because most of in here for shooting someone and killing them. He says he 'real' because he stabs a b---- face to face and take they life. It’s like he get high off it or something.”

READ MORE: Aiden Fucci threatening and extorting inmates, jail officials say

Credit: Contributed
Selfie photo of Aiden Fucci taken in the back seat of a patrol car
Credit: Tanya White
Credit: St. Johns County Sheriff's Office
Aiden Fucci, 14, is charged as an adult with 1st-degree murder in the death of Tristyn Bailey.

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