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Teen sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing Florida cheerleader 114 times

Aiden Fucci was 14 when he killed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey on May 9, 2021, authorities said. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February.

The Florida teenager who fatally stabbed 13-year-old cheerleader Tristyn Bailey 114 times in 2021 was sentenced Friday to life in prison, authorities said.

Aiden Fucci, 16, was handed the sentence by Judge R. Lee Smith, according to Haley Harrison, with the Office of the State Attorney, 7th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Harrison said the sentence is subject to review by a judge in 25 years.

Aiden Fucci at Saint Johns County Courthouse, on Jacksonville, Fla.
Aiden Fucci at Saint Johns County Courthouse, in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 23. Bob Self / Florida Times-Union via USA Today Network file

Fucci pleaded guilty in February to first-degree murder. He was 14 when he was arrested in the May 9, 2021, slaying.

Forest Bailey, Tristyn’s father, spoke Friday on behalf of his family following the verdict.

He sent his daughter a message.

"Tristyn, I wanted to let you know we are so extremely proud of the person that you were in your time here," he said. "We have seen that when you went out into the world, you gave it your very best. You should be proud of the friend that you were, the teammate that you were, and what you left behind and the people that knew you that we trust will go forward and continue to make the world a better place."

His voice cracked as he continued speaking.

"With respect to what you mean to our family, it's in our hearts. There are no words. We love you. We will continue to hold you in our hearts and we will always be the Bailey Seven."

He thanked the judge for the sentence he handed down.

"We are very appreciative of this outcome and felt that it is the right verdict, considering how heinous the crime is and Aiden's behavior around it."

He added Fucci's family should not be mistreated because they're in pain, too.

"Please extend them kindness. They should be given grace for the pain they're going through. They should not be given additional hardship."

Tristyn was found dead in woods outside Jacksonville. According to a probable cause affidavit, Fucci told investigators that he got into an argument with her and pushed her to the ground after they left a mutual friend’s home before dawn May 9.

While he was still considered a witness, Fucci snapped a photo of himself in the back of a police vehicle flashing a peace sign and posted the image to social media with the caption: “Hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately.”

He was arrested May 10 and initially accused of second-degree murder.

Days later, a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge, and Fucci was to be tried as an adult.  

13-year-old Tristyn Bailey.
13-year-old Tristyn Bailey.St. Johns County Sheriff's Office / via Twitter

State Attorney R.J. Larizza stated the number of stab wounds supported the charge and showed the attack was premeditated.

On Wednesday, Tristyn's family provided emotional accounts during a sentencing hearing.

Her sister Alexis dropped 114 teal-colored stones into a glass jar to represent each time Fucci stabbed her younger sister.

“Aiden Fucci didn’t just take Tristyn’s life that day, he took everything from us,” she said during the hearing.

Alexis and another sister, Brittney Bailey Russell, said they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder since the slaying. Russell was on her honeymoon when she learned that her sister was missing.

“Agony isn’t painful enough. Shattered to the core doesn’t crumble like how I feel. Infuriated doesn’t even come close to touching the amount of rage I find myself trapped in,” she said. “And let me tell you, justice is just a word for comfort. It doesn’t bring her back,” she said.