Alexis Bailey calculatedly dropped 114 aqua stone hearts into a glass jar one by one to represent the stab wounds her sister Tristyn endured. Thus began her family's victim impact statements in the second day of 16-year-old Aiden Fucci's sentencing phase in St. Johns County Circuit Court.
The jar would stay there for each family member and Tristyn's best friend while they read their statements. Each concluded by adding a white stone — in her mother's case two — to represent something specific to them.
The overriding theme was grief, despair, anger and anxiety. A young, vibrant life lost and so many lives ruined. The other clear consensus was they all want Fucci, who pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his friend and Patriot Oaks Academy classmate, to be punished with a life term in prison.
Since Fucci is a juvenile, the sentence isn't automatically life. Judge R. Lee Smith must decide — likely this week — from a minimum of 40 years to life. After 25 years, a judge can reevaluate his sentence, but 40 is still mandatory under Florida law.
Fucci was 14 when he and Tristyn had been at a friend's home in their Dubrin Crossing neighborhood in St. Johns County and were last seen walking together after 1 a.m. on May 9, 2021 — Mother's Day, the Sheriff's Office said. Tristyn, 13, was stabbed over a hundred times, according to the medical examiner. Fucci hasn't said why her, but his friends said he had a fascination with knives and wanting to kill someone.
Fucci, like he has been for most of his court proceedings, showed little emotion throughout. Here is how some of Tristyn's family said their lives will be forever changed.
Tristyn Bailey's mother
Stacy Bailey first talked about how she and her husband thought they were done having children when they found out she was pregnant with Tristyn as they were moving to Singapore. The doctors warned the baby was at risk to be born with Down syndrome and a hole in her heart. "But in time we would learn that her heart was stronger than most," she said. The two had a bond that was unbreakable.
Since her daughter's smile and irresistible laughter were snuffed out, "I have watched the depression, the PTSD, the anxiety take over so many. ... I carry the weight of this on my shoulders every single day." She also feels she has to be there for each of Tristyn's friends.
She told the judge she keeps a journal and wanted to read some excerpts. She began with waking up at 1:05 a.m. and trying to orient herself and get more sleep. The next entry is at 2:05 a.m. and then 3 a.m., both times chronicling being startled awake.
"Visions flood my head how terrified she must have been," Stacy Bailey said of Tristyn. Betrayed by someone she thought was her friend, "he continues to strike, over and over and over ... These visions are embedded in my mind. ... I pray she passed out, but honestly with the amount of defense wounds, I know she did not. She fought, and our beautiful daughter suffered for so long as he took no mercy in the 114 times he stabbed her."
Then the trauma migraines come, they always come, she said. "I beg and plead with myself to just stop thinking for five minutes... This is my new normal, every day, all day, my new life sentenced to the torture of my child being murdered."
Then it's 3:46 a.m. and then 4:15 a.m. "I can't control my anxiety. ... God, please make this stop, wake me up from this nightmare. ... How could you let evil touch her? Why God, why? This is my sleep pattern every night. ... I do not recognize the person that's looking at me in the mirror. ... I live in constant brain fog."
Aiden Fucci trial: Questions and answers in the St. Johns County teen's murder case
She said her hair is breaking and falling out because of all the anxiety, "and I now have a general fear of being outside in the dark. ... My home which was once where we all gathered in comfort is now a place of hurt. ... I do not know if we will ever have comfort in our home again."
"Aiden Fucci, you have destroyed me, you have destroyed my family, you have destroyed Tristyn's friends, you have destroyed the community we live in."
She then pleaded with the judge: "Please do not think for one second he can be rehabilitated. He is beyond saving."
Tristyn Bailey's father
Forrest Bailey, after expressing gratitude to the community, addressed Fucci. "I want to be clear, your insincere apology is not accepted," he said of his Feb. 6 guilty plea when he said he was sorry. "At no point in time have I seen any remorse."
He said there are no solutions, and the family is just trying to move forward. "Just breathe... but this will not pass," he said.
He also talked about all of the bills for counseling sessions, in excess of $36,000, because of everyone's grief.
"I just don't know about so many things, I lost a sense of myself," Forrest Bailey said, noting he feels like a zombie and is just going through the motions.
"When you lose a child, there's ongoing questions of doubt," he said. "The pain and triggers happen every day."
He, as others in the family mentioned, talked about how they used to have a Bailey Family Fun Day every Sunday. "No event in the world was as dear to me as our family dinners and everyone would make it there. ... It hurts us to the core to sit in my chair at the head of the table and have our baby not in her chair but in an urn sitting on a shelf in front of me."
"You can only begin to imagine how the pain he put her through stays with us," he said to the judge.
Tristyn Bailey's second-oldest sister
Alexis Bailey said the number of questions she has for Fucci surrounding that night plagues her mind: "Did she see you coming at her with the knife or did you stab her while she wasn't paying attention? ... Did she beg you to stop? ... What were her last words? Did you stay to watch her die?"
She said she has racked her brain trying to remember the last words Tristyn said to her on May 8. She can still see her walking out the door and has nightmares about that moment.
"In my dreams I try to reach out and grab her, beg her to spend the night, anything to prevent what happened just hours later. Yet every time the door closes before I can get to her. ... To know I was awake and only 11 minutes away from my sister as she was being brutally murdered, could I have saved her?"
She talked about her father "lying on the floor screaming in a way no human should ever be able to produce" when they learned of her body being found. "Our family broke that day, and I don't recognize any of us anymore. I have watched my parents going from believing they were good parents to believing they were failures."
She said she has watched her siblings go through the same angst and pain.
She said she was the one who had the responsibility of speaking with the funeral home, to help decide which urn and to pick up her ashes.
"I've had to become the safe place for my parents to hold space for their feelings," Alexis Bailey said.
Before Aiden Fucci: These juveniles were charged as adults in high-profile Jacksonville-area cases
She said she has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her relationships have suffered, her physical and mental health have diminished.
"Aiden Fucci didn't just take Tristyn's life that day," she said. "He took everything from us: our family, sense of security, laughs, health and potential. For us, justice does not exist in this case, and closure does not exist. ... The only justifiable sentence in this case is a full life sentence. Anything short of that would be an insult."
Tristyn Bailey's brother
Teegan Bailey said he came home from college to celebrate Mother's Day. After dinner, he, Tristyn and Sophia were watching TV and he began to fall asleep on the couch, so he excused himself to go to bed.
"Every single day I can't help to wonder had I slept on that couch instead or I had stayed up later ... there's a possibility my little sister could still be alive today. I have lived with that question, that weight, that guilt since I went to wake up Trisytin on Mother's Day and found her room empty."
He's struggled ever since.
"Mentally I put this all into a box and I run to it," he said. "... The depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder is real. ... The nights where sleep is replaced with the heinous details of what Tristyn suffered are real. ... But no matter how much I may try to run or distract myself, this is my reality."
Teegan Bailey also addressed Fucci and what humanity he still possesses.
"I have convinced myself you are something other than human."
Tristyn Bailey's oldest sister
Brittany Bailey Russell said she was on Day 1 of her honeymoon when Alexis called telling her to brace herself, that Tristyn was missing.
"I could even go into great detail about the blood-curdling and excruciating screams that ejected from my father's lungs, the bottom of his lungs, while my husband and I sat on the other end of that Facetime call," she said. "... If the court really wants to hear the most graphic of it all, I could tell you about the days that follow when I heard the fatal wail that bursted from my mom in the other room when Detective Hannon delivered the news to just my parents on how Tristyn died that Mother's Day. ... But the crippling sound that my mom let out, I knew it was something unimaginable."
She described Fucci as an absolute coward to overpower a 5-foot-3 innocent girl.
She said she now carries emergency medicine to breathe due to PTSD. She's lost clients due to her inability to work, and rage takes over her body. "I look at myself in the mirror and don't recognize the person I am anymore. ... My love for life, all gone."
When will Aiden Fucci be sentenced?
The judge has scheduled Friday morning for the expected sentencing.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Aiden Fucci sentencing: Tristyn Bailey family describes torment