Teen killer Aiden Fucci's attorney said in St. Johns County court Wednesday that he has indicated he is "hearing voices" to a juvenile probation officer during his time in jail.
Fucci is set to be sentenced the week of March 21 in the stabbing death of 13-year-old classmate Tristyn Bailey, a first-degree murder he pleaded guilty to on Feb. 6. She suffered 114 stab wounds according to the medical examiner. Fucci, now 16, faces 40 years to life in prison.
Attorneys from both sides met before Circuit Judge R. Lee Smith on Wednesday to discuss the defense's intention to call Dwayne Barton, a juvenile probation officer.
Fucci was in court in a red jumpsuit, which can mean that an inmate is a possible self-harm or escape risk.
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Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton told the judge she is concerned that the defense intends to use Barton's testimony to make a point about Fucci's mental health.
Defense attorney Rosemarie Peoples said that throughout Fucci's time in jail, Barton asked him questions about his well-being. She stated this is "part of his job."
Peoples said she does intend to have Barton testify about the teen's mental well-being, not as a mental health expert but as someone who has spoken to Fucci in a professional capacity.
She said Barton visited with him monthly for a year, asking him questions about his time in jail and how he was doing.
"I do want to ask him ... 'did my client reveal to you that he's hearing voices?' Because over the year that he'd seen him, that indication was made," Peoples said.
This is not the first time the possibility of Fucci having mental health concerns has been raised. During a September 2021 hearing on Zoom, Fucci was seen on the livestream rocking and fidgeting, seeming distraught.
Fucci could be heard saying: "I won't let you demons take my soul." Technical issues caused his video feed to cut shortly after.
Dunton argued that Barton's testimony should not be allowed. Anything that Fucci says could be considered self-serving, which is a type of hearsay and inadmissible in court, she argued.
However, Peoples rebutted that because only Fucci experienced whatever "delusions" he was reporting, the only way he couldreveal that symptom is by verbally telling someone.
Lee ultimately ruled that Barton will not be allowed to testify about anything that Fucci directly told him, only what he has personally observed.
However, if a mental health expert "opens the door" to a line of questioning of Fucci's mental state, this decision could change.
The defense has notably not called a psychiatric expert to testify, something Lee addressed Fucci about at his last hearing. He stressed to Fucci that he is entitled to call a witness to talk about his mental health.
The state has called Dr. Greogry Pritchard, a psychiatrist, to testify at the sentencing.
Peoples said she plans to depose Pritchard on Friday and without having interviewed him, she can't determine if he will, or will not, "open the door" to testimony about Fucci's mental health.
Peoples told Lee she has not prepared an insanity defense case and does not intend to use this testimony to argue that Fucci is not fit to be sentenced.
During Fucci's unexpected guilty plea on the day the jury was to be selected, he apologized to both Bailey's family and his own. But he has not publicly explained what happened or why he killed her. Fucci's friends told investigators he had talked about wanting to kill someone, even taking them into the woods and stabbing them.
He and Bailey had been at a friend's home in their Durbin Crossing community in St. Johns County and were last seen walking together a bit after 1 a.m. on May 9, 2021, the Sheriff's Office said. Bailey's body was later discovered in a wooded area near their homes. Fucci's buck knife also was found in a nearby pond and the broken-off tip in Bailey's skull, the Sheriff's Office said.
This story first appeared on First Coast News.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Aiden Fucci's hearing voices is at issue in Tristyn Bailey stabbing