A barely teenage murder suspect was all-but silent as he made his first appearance in a Florida courtroom early Tuesday morning.
Aiden Fucci, 14, stands accused of killing Tristyn Bailey, 13, sometime over the weekend. He was charged with second-degree murder after being arrested early Monday morning.
“[Do] you solemnly swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” the court clerk asked digitally via Zoom.
“Yes,” Fucci replied.
Later on during the proceedings, the suspect appeared to hold back tears.
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The eight-and-a-half minute first appearance got off to a slow start as the court went through several perfunctory motions. The defendant was brought up to speed on the subject of the hearing, reminded of his constitutional rights and consulted about his private defense attorney. Technical difficulties dragged on for several minutes as the defense logged in to the digital meeting room while the judge continued to explain the law and the teenager’s rights.
Fucci is currently in the custody of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. His brief court appearance before Volusia County-based 7th Circuit Judge Michael Orfinger occurred at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“Alright, Mr. Fucci, you’re charged with second-degree murder,” the judge explained. “Murder committed with a depraved mind but without premeditation. That is murder in the second degree, although it is a first degree felony.”
Orfinger went on to note that he had already read through the arrest report and then asked Fucci’s defense attorney Andy Snober if he had any additional comments to add regarding probable cause. Snober replied in the negative and the judge ultimately found there was probable cause to continue holding the defendant in custody.
“I do find that there is probable cause to believe that the offense occurred,” the judge noted.
The case is being prosecuted by the 7th Circuit State Attorney’s Office. The state’s attorney has yet to decide whether Fucci will be charged as an adult. While that decision is reached, Fucci will remain in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s custody for at least the next 21 days or until the court formally changes its mind.
“That decision will be made in that time frame,” state’s attorney Jennifer Dunton told the court — regarding the three-week period during which authorities will make their ultimate charging decision.
Bailey’s death captured national attention after a volunteer-led search throughout St. Augustine, Fla. on Sunday following her disappearance earlier that same morning.
The young girl’s body was discovered late Sunday evening during such a search patrol. She was pronounced dead, and an investigation quickly led police to question and then to arrest Fucci.
On Monday, a Snapchat selfie showing the suspect flashing a peace sign while in the back of a police car spread across social media.
“Hey guys has inybody [sic] seen Tristyn lately,” a caption read — prompting outrage and shock at the apparently macabre commentary.
Authorities have been loath to discuss that image.
“I don’t want to say anything about that; I wouldn’t have anything nice to say,” Executive Director of the State Attorney’s Office for the 7th Circuit Bryan Shorstein told Law&Crime. “I can verify he did take the selfie and make that comment while in the car.”
Watch the full courtroom appearance below:
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