The sister of a murdered Florida cheerleader dropped 114 aqua-coloured stones into a jar as she gave powerful testimony to a judge who sentenced her classmate killer to life imprisonment.
Tristyn Bailey, 13, was stabbed more than 100 times in May 2021 by her classmate Aiden Fucci, who is now 16. Fucci pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February. His sentence can be reviewed after he spends 25 years behind bars.
“One for each of the 114 stab wounds that my sister had to endure,” Alexis Bailey told the court during the sentencing phase of the case this week as she spent nearly two minutes dropping the symbolic stones.
And she added: “Did she see you coming at her with the knife? Or did you stab her while she wasn’t paying attention? Did she scream out for help? Or was she paralyzed with agony? Did she cry for my mother? Did she beg you to stop?
“What were her last words? Did you stay to watch her die? Or did you leave her there in agonizing pain as you ran away? How long did she suffer?”
Fucci was handed life imprisonment by Judge R Lee Smith on 24 March for her brutal killing.
Fucci, who is now 16, was a juvenile when the killing occurred and was not eligible for the death penalty.
“This was not done out of greed. It was not done in retaliation or retribution or revenge. It was not a crime of passion. It was not a crime that was committed because he felt rejected by her. It was not done in a fit of uncontrollable anger. There was no reason. There was no purpose,” Judge Smith told St Johns County Court.
“It was done for no other reason than to satisfy this defendant’s internal desire to feel what it was like to kill someone,” Smith said. “This leads this court to the conclusion that there is only one appropriate sentence in this case.”
“The memories of May 9 will forever be engrained in my mind, body and soul. To know I was awake and only 11 minutes away from my sister as she was being brutally murdered. Could I have saved her?” added Alexis Bailey.
“Aiden Fucci didn’t just take Tristyn’s life that day. He took everything from us. Our family’s sense of security, laughs, health and sense of potential. For us, justice does not exist in this case and closure does not exist in this case. Peace, understanding and forgiveness will never come.”
After each family member completed their testimony they placed a white heart-shaped stone into the jar, representing what they said Fucci had taken away from them.
Tristyn’s mother, Stacy, dropped two white stones into the jar, reported WJXT.
She told the court that one was for her daughter, Sophia, who had lost the chance to be a big sister. And she said the other was for herself, representing her lost “joy, hope, future”, and “my beautiful daughter”.
Everyone who gave a statement called for Fucci to receive the maximum sentence available under the law.
“Aiden Fucci, your deplorable actions are unforgivable, and I will pray every day that you stay in prison for the rest of your life and never be able to harm anyone else in this world again,” said an emotional Stacy Bailey.
“Your Honour, I plead with you, please consider everything he has done to our daughter and to our family.
“Aiden Fucci made a heinous decision on May 9, 2021, and took the very life that I brought into this world. Please do not for one second think that he could be rehabilitated at any point. He is beyond saving.”