Aiden Fucci, the Florida teen who was set to stand trial for the brutal 2021 murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey on Monday, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in her fatal stabbing.
Fucci, 16, entered the plea in St. Johns County Courthouse just before jury selection was set to begin, News4Jax, Click Orlando and First Coast News report.
“I just want to apologize to the Bailey family,” Fucci said after changing his plea from not guilty, News4Jax reports.
Fucci faces a sentence of life in prison with a minimum of 40 years.
Fourteen at the time of the murder, Fucci was charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the stabbing of the 13-year-old cheerleader, who was found dead in the woods near her house on Mother’s Day 2021.
Tristyn was found dead on May 9, 2021, after her parents reported her missing.
Tristyn had been stabbed 114 times, with at least 49 stab wounds to her hands, arms, and head that were “defensive in nature,” 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza, told reporters at a press conference at the time.
Fucci was arrested on May 10, 2021, and subsequently made several “admissions” of guilt, according to his arrest report.
Authorities said they found his clothing stained with blood as well as a hunting knife believed to be the murder weapon in a nearby pond.
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Days before Tristyn’s killing, Fucci told friends that he planned to kill someone, though he didn’t specify whom, Larizza said.
“He indicated to witnesses that he was going to kill someone by taking them in the woods and stabbing them,” Larizza said.
After his arrest, Fucci posted to social media a selfie of himself in the back of a patrol car referencing Tristyn. In the photo, Fucci is seen giving a peace sign. The photo has the caption: “Hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately?”
During a pre-trial conference via video from a room in the Duval County Jail, Fucci was also heard talking about demons, saying, “Please don’t let the demons take my soul. The demons are going to take my soul away.”
Fucci then asked, “What’s going on?” and then says, “Why am I here? I just want to talk to my mom and dad. What’s going? What’s going on?”
PEOPLE’s call to his attorney, Josh Mosley, was not immediately returned.
Fucci’s mother, Crystal Smith, is charged with tampering with evidence in her son’s murder case, allegedly for washing blood off her son’s jeans.
Attorneys for Fucci and his mother did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Fucci is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 23 for a hearing to discuss sentencing.