A disturbed Florida teen pleaded guilty Monday to the gruesome 2021 murder of a 13-year-old cheerleader in a quiet suburb of Jacksonville.
Aiden Fucci, now 16, entered the surprise plea on the day he was set to face trial for stabbing Tristyn Bailey 114 times and leaving her body in a wooded area near their community.
“I just want to say I plea guilty and I’m sorry for the Bailey family and my family,” Fucci said in a brief statement to the court Monday.
Fucci is being charged as an adult, and prosecutors stressed they did not offer him any leniency in sentencing as part of the plea agreement.
He is not eligible for the death penalty because he committed the heinous crime while still a 14-year-old minor.
Fucci’s friends told investigators he openly fantasized about violence and murder in the months leading up to the killing — and that he selected his classmate as a target in a fit of rage.
He would often draw pictures of mutilated bodies and confide to pals that he heard voices in his head telling him to kill innocents.
Associates told detectives he had a turbulent home life and would indulge in dark fantasies as a way to cope with the turmoil.
Bailey had been socializing with both Fucci and another classmate before the crime, and she was last captured on a surveillance camera in a local cul-de-sac around 1:45 a.m.
Her family reported her missing after she failed to appear for a Mother’s Day breakfast with her family later that morning.
Prosecutors and the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department both stressed that Bailey, a popular local teenager in the normally tranquil neighborhood, had dozens of defensive wounds that indicated a violent struggle for her life.
Her killer appeared to revel in the attention he received in the hours after the slaughter, posting several Snapchat videos showing him in the back of a police car before an initial interview.
Fucci’s mother was also later arrested and charged with evidence tampering after she attempted to wash the blood out her son’s gore-soaked jeans after the incident.
The troubled teen has been repeatedly cited for misconduct while in jail, bragging about the grisly crime and threatening both inmates and staffers who crossed his path.
He faces a maximum of life in prison, and could have his term reviewed after 25 years behind bars. Sentencing will take place at a later date.