A Florida state attorney said 16-year-old Aiden Fucci was likely being strategic when pleading guilty to murdering his classmate.
Fucci, who recently confessed to stabbing 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey 114 times in early 2021, may have used a Florida law to his advantage. In the state, a juvenile is entitled to a parole review in 25 years, Dave Aronberg, a state attorney in Palm Beach County told Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast.
“What this defendant did by pleading guilty was to play the long game for his review in 25 years,” Aronberg said. “He wants to show the court that he is now remorseful, that he’s taken responsibility for his actions.”
“Apparently, he is thinking that he has a better chance of getting released in 25 years than getting acquitted at trial, because if he keeps fighting this at trial and was found guilty, he’s less likely to be released in 25 years,” Aronberg continued. “He’ll probably get the full life sentence.”
Fucci’s mother, Crystal Lane Smith, is being charged in connection to the murder, as well. Specifically, tampering with evidence: According to court documents, Smith was seen in her own home surveillance footage washing her son’s jeans on the afternoon of the murder. The pants and sink drain later tested positive for blood.
“The key bit of information that we need to know is not just that she washed the jeans, but she knew that it was evidence of a crime,” Aronberg said. “But because criminals are often stupid, she said to her son at the police station, ‘Hey, you know, there was blood. Did you get rid of it all?’ and something to that effect.”
That was proof that she knew Fucci committed the crime and wasn’t merely washing his jeans — she knew what she was doing.
“And because of that, she was charged with tampering with evidence. She could have also been charged with accessory after the fact. Either one. But both are really serious crimes,” Aronberg explained. “And because her son was charged with a capital crime, the most serious of them all, she could actually be charged with a first degree felony that puts her in prison for up to 30 years. So she’s got to go through some things and rightly so.”
He said he wonders: “What else did she do to cover up the crime? Did she do something else to help him evade police? She tried to lie to police, as well.”
“I would hope that there’d be a full investigation and not just leave it here because, you know, these parents deserve to be held accountable,” Aronberg continued. “They’re clearly being held accountable in the court of public opinion. But it’s also important that they be held accountable in a court of justice.
Aronberg calls this the “era of responsibility.”
“It’s a good thing because there is an outcry in this country over the behavior of these children and their parents seem to go away with impunity,” he said. “We see with the Ethan Crumbly parents being charged in Michigan, and now we’re seeing it with this individual because it’s about time that parents are held accountable for the actions of their awful kids. And these kids didn’t just get born like that. They had to be raised in an environment that led to these horrific acts.”
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