Aiden Fucci, the Florida teenager who was due to stand trial on Monday for the brutal 2021 murder of 13-year-old cheerleader Tristyn Bailey, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Aiden Fucci, 16, pleaded his case in St Johns County Court, Florida in the United States, just before jury selection began, according to multiple media reports.
“I just want to apologize to the Bailey family,” Fucci said after changing his plea to not guilty, News4Jax reports.
Mr Fucci faces a life sentence with a minimum of 40 years.
Aged 14 at the time of the murder, the teenager was charged as an adult with first degree murder. The young cheerleader was found dead in the woods near her home on Mother’s Day in 2021.
Young Tristyn had been stabbed 114 times, including at least 49 stab wounds to the hands, arms and head that were ‘defensive in nature’, 7th Judicial Circuit prosecutor RJ Larizza told reporters at a conference press at the time.
Fucci was arrested on May 10, 2021, and later made several “confessions” of guilt, according to his arrest report.
Authorities said they found his bloodstained clothes, along with a hunting knife thought to be the murder weapon, in a nearby pond.
A few days before Tristyn’s murder, Aiden told friends he intended to kill someone, without specifying the identity of his victim.
“He indicated to witnesses that he was going to kill someone by taking them into the woods and stabbing them,” Mr Larizza said.
Following his arrest, Aiden posted a selfie of himself in the back of a patrol car on social media referencing Tristyn. In the photo, Aiden is seen making a peace sign. The photo was accompanied by the following comment: “Hey guys, has anyone seen Tristyn lately?”
Aiden’s mother, Crystal Smith, is charged with tampering with evidence in the Tristyn murder case, allegedly for washing blood off her son’s jeans.
Aiden is due back in court on February 23 for a sentencing hearing.