St. Johns County court records show a major development Thursday in the case of Crystal Lane Smith, the mother of convicted murderer Aiden Fucci, whose trial had been scheduled to start Monday for her charge of tampering with evidence.
She is now scheduled for a "felony plea and sentence" at 1:30 p.m. Friday in St. Johns County Circuit Court, almost two years to the day that 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey was stabbed to death not far from home. The development would usually indicate a guilty plea.
What sentencing agreement with the prosecution may have been made is still unclear, but Smith faces up to five years in prison for the third-degree felony, according to Florida statutes.
The Bailey family was involved in the decision to forgo the trial and provided the following statement:
"The family is aware of the plan for her to plea tomorrow and they were involved in the negotiations alongside Assistant State Attorney Jenny Dunton. They are appreciative of the hard work of the St. Johns' County Sheriff's Department and the 7th Circuit State Attorney's Office! Tomorrow, the Tristyn Bailey Foundation looks forward to making a major announcement regarding the foundation's hard work toward victim advocacy and continuing to shine Tristyn's legacy with the world."
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Fucci unexpectedly pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Feb. 6 in the heinous killing of his friend and Patriot Oaks Academy classmate. At 16 years old, he was sentenced to life in prison on March 24. He never explained why he stabbed her over a hundred times, but some of his friends said he forewarned them he wanted to feel what it was like to kill someone. They didn't think he was serious though, according to court documents.
Home security video showed Smith retrieving and scrubbing a pair of jeans that Fucci, then 14, had worn the day his friend went missing after they were hanging out. Then she was seen showing them to an unidentified woman before putting them back. This also was after deputies had arrived at their home to question Fucci and left with them so he could show them where he last saw her, according to court records.
Forensics would eventually determine the jeans contained blood.
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Tristyn was later found stabbed to death in some woods in their Durbin Crossing neighborhood on Mother's Day 2021. While Smith and Fucci's father questioned their 14-year-old in a Sheriff's Office holding room, he never revealed what actually happened, according to the investigation's video.
But Smith, 37, had suspicions and asked him if he was sure nothing was on his jeans, whispering "Blood." She had also informed him Tristyn had been found dead and he was in a lot of trouble being the last one seen with her.
She was arrested June 4, 2021, on the tampering charge and released the next day on $25,000 bond, according to jail records.
Witnesses during the presentencing phase for Fucci indicated he had a fairly normal upbringing, despite some troubles in school and potential red flags. Smith had not attended her son's court proceedings while awaiting her own trial as recommended by her attorney, but she did submit letters to the judge and the Bailey family during his sentencing phase.
Here's an excerpt: "As a mother, the love you have for your child is difficult to articulate to others, unless they're a mother themself. To be helpless to protect your child is a mother's worst living nightmare. To cope with such a loss is unimaginable. I grieve for the devastating loss of Tristyn, I grieve for the subsequent arrest of my son, and I grieve for the irreparable agony inflicted on the Bailey family, as well as all other friends and families effected. Most of all, however, I grieve for Stacy Bailey as a mother."
Forrest Bailey, Tristyn's father, questioned the sincerity of her statement.
“You’ve seen the videos from the home. You’ve seen the videos from the interrogation room. I would say if she is sorry, she can start by accepting responsibility,” he said following Fucci's last court appearance.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Crystal Smith, Aiden Fucci's mom, is expected to plead guilty