Teenager guilty of Florida murders
A teenager has been found guilty of the murders of two British tourists shot dead in Florida last year.
James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, were gunned down after they drunkenly walked into a public housing estate in the Newtown area of Sarasota in the early hours of April 16 last year.
Shawn Tyson, 17, was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder after a trial at Sarasota County Courthouse.
The families of Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris said in a statement that Shawn Tyson was "evil", and that they had been given "a life sentence when our sons were so brutally and needlessly taken from us. Ours is a life sentence, with no chance of parole from a broken heart, and a shattered soul".
It took the jury of eight women and four men about two hours to convict Tyson of murder in the first degree of both men. The 17-year-old, wearing an orange shirt and brown tie, sat emotionless as the verdict was read out to the court, as did his mother Kenyatta Whitfield, in the public gallery.
Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, and Mr Cooper, drunkenly walked into The Court in the early hours of April 16. They were confronted by Tyson, who tried to rob them, then when they had no money, told them: "Well since you ain't got no money, I got something for your ass".
The men pleaded to go home, saying they were drunk, but the teenager, then 16, shot first one of them, then the other. When they were found, both still had their wallets and cash - Mr Cooper had 63.45 dollars, while Mr Kouzaris had 62.05 dollars.
Tyson boasted to friend Latrece Washington that one of the victims was "crying for his life", and he had shot him and "emptied the clip on him". The teenager was seen by neighbours running to his house and climbing in the window just after the gunshots. He also told another friend, Marvin Gaines, he had killed the men.
Mr Gaines said Tyson gave him seven 0.22 calibre shell casings to bury in his backyard, as well as a gun. Mr Gaines later gave the gun to friend Jermaine Bane, who sold it for 50 dollars. After he was threatened with a charge of accessory to murder, Mr Gaines led police to where the casings were buried. The murder weapon has never been found.
Tyson was arrested on April 7 - nine days before the killings - for shooting at a car. On that same day, Jessica Cunningham said he pointed a gun at her and her niece, saying: "I'll kill both of you b*tches." He was released on April 15 - but less than 24 hours later had killed Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper.