You are on page 1of 12

Click here to print

They will haunt your thoughts forever: Family and friends of two British tourists gunned down in Florida confront their teenager killer as he is jailed for life
l l l l l

Shawn Tyson, 17, is guilty of murdering two holidaymakers in April 2011 James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, found shot dead in street Men 'begged shooter to let them go' as they tried to return home Parents of victims released a statement: 'Ours is a life sentence, with no chance of parole from a broken heart, and a shattered soul' Tyson will get be sentenced to prison but will not be given the death penalty because he is not a legal adult

By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 16:31 EST, 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 18:35 EST, 28 March 2012

Guilty: Shawn Tyson, 17, was found guilty on Wednesday of the deaths of two British tourists last April

A sneering teenager, nicknamed 'Savage', was today found guilty in the shooting deaths of two British tourists after days of damning evidence. Shawn Tyson, 17, was charged with two counts of first degree murder for killing James Cooper and James Kouzaris in April 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison. The teen murdered the holidaymakers after he tried robbing the young men only to find that they did not have any cash on them. The Copper and Kouzaris families released a statement, saying that they too have 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,' the statement continued. The Sarasota, Florida jury of eight women and four men only deliberated for two hours before coming to the guilty sentence for Tyson. After a week-long case, he was charged with first degree murder for both of the men. Before sentencing Tyson, the judge allowed friends of the two victims to speak directly to the killer. The emotional disparagements show the extent of the pain felt by the young mens' friends and family. 'You've taken us all on a journey to hell the last 12 months,' said John Hallett, a friend of the two victims. 'It was through your deadly action that you have taken us on a journey to hell... They were decent human beings. 'They will haunt your thoughts forever. You pierced both their hearts with bullets ... you have ripped the hearts out of so many of us.'

Best buddies: James Cooper (left) and James Kouzaris (right) became friends after meeting at university

Friends of the victims: Joe Hallett (left) and Paul Davies (right) both spoke at the sentencing, directly in front Tyson

The court even allowed a memorial DVD to be played to the emotional audience, and both Tyson and his mother had to watch. Kouzaris' parents were not in the court room at the time, but did say a few words via video link. His mother said: 'I can't feel sorry for the murderer of my son, but I can feel for his mother.' The point was particularly poignant as Tyson's mother, Kenyatta Walker, was sitting two rows behind her son during the sentencing. Another friend echoed the sentiments of the Cooper and Kouzaris families, saying that the killings will haunt him for the rest of his life. 'When I get married, I will be short a best man,' said friend Paul Davies. 'You might think that being a man is carrying a gun, but it isn't,' he told a slouching Tyson in court.

The final picture: James Kouzaris photographed earlier on in the night that he was killed in the notorious district of Newtown

CCTV: These images show the pair drinking in a bar shortly before they were both killed

Victim: James Cooper pictured having fun in a bar just hours before he was gunned down alongside his friend

Tyson's lawyers only brought one witness to testify on his behalf- a crime scene specialist, who only spoke briefly.

Just days before the fatal shooting, Tyson was released from a prior arrest when he was caught shooting at a car. On the same day as that arrest, he threatened one of his female friends and her niece by pointing a gun at them and saying 'I'll kill you both'. That friend, Jessica Cunningham, was just one of a handful who were called on as witnesses in this case against Tyson. The most damning evidence against the teen, who turned 17 on the opening day of the trial, is also said to have bragged about the murders to his friend Latrice Washington.

What remains: DNA technician Lauren Remington shows how they collected Tyson's prints and DNA from the slain mens' pants, proving that the incident started as a robbery

Prior threats: Jessica Cunningham shows the jury how Tyson had threatened her and her niece with a gun just days before a prior arrest

She told the court that Tyson had told her one of the tourists cried for his life as his friend was shot and was then gunned down too. She said Tyson claimed to have told the victims that since they did not have any money, he had 'something for your ass'. Miss Washington told her mother, and reported it to police the following day, Mr Brodsky said. That was not Tyson's only confession, either, as he reportedly told his friend Marvin Gaines that he had killed the men. In court, Mr Gaines said: 'He made a mistake. He shouldn't have done it.' Mr Gaines' testimony was vital as he said that Tyson had given him the used casings from the 0.22 calibre gun that he used in the shooting, along with the gun. The gun was then sold to a third friend, named Jermaine Bane, for $50 by Mr Gaines. While in custody, Tyson was recorded on a phone call from prison to his half brother saying: They said they found the bullets. That's what I'm saying could f*** me up'. He made the call the day after he was held for the murders of James Cooper and James Kouzaris.

Evidence: The .22 calibre shell casings allegedly found buried near the murder scene

Digital: A rendering of the crime scene shown during the testimony in the Shawn Tyson murder trial

TYSON'S PRISON PHONE CALL


Shawn Tyson called his half brother from prison saying police had found bullet casings connected to the shooting, the Florida courtroom heard today. Here is Tyson's recorded telephone conversation with his half brother, who has not been named, from Sarasota County Jail: Tyson: 'What's up, bro?' Brother: 'What's up, lil' man?' Tyson: 'S***.' Brother: 'What them crackers talkin' about?' Tyson: 'S***. I don't even know right now. I don't know why they talkin' about.' Brother: 'Yeah, I don't know what them crackers talkin' about. S***, like. You was in the house, like.' Tyson: 'I know... that's what I keep on... these crackers talkin' about that somebody say they seen me out there or some s***.' Brother: 'Them crackers trippin', man.' Tyson: 'Hell yeah.' Brother: 'S***, you're chate, through. You know what I'm sayin' like? You ain't got no guns or nothin'. Like f*** them crackers talkin' about.'

Tyson: 'Only thing is, they found the bullets, though.' Brother: 'Huh?' Tyson: 'They found the bullets.' Brother: 'Oh. Damn!' Tyson: 'That's the only thing that's gonna f*** me up.' Brother: 'They found them in the house?' Tyson: 'M-hm-mm.' The alleged killer is said to have murdered the pair after they drunkenly stumbled into the rundown Newtown neighbourhood of Sarasota. Authorities later found that Kouzaris blood alcohol level was 0.243 and Coopers was 0.214 well past Floridas legal limit for intoxication when driving, which is 0.08. He allegedly forced the terrified pair to pull down their trousers before firing a volley of shots. A court in Sarasota heard that when police searched his home they found two .22 bullets on his bedroom floor. Cooper, 25, and Kouzaris, 24, were shot dead by bullets fired from a .22 revolver. Prosecutors in Sarasota have told the court the then 16-year-old was known to carrythattypeofweapon.InthecallplayedtothejuryattheSarasota County Courthouse Tyson also told his brother: 'Somebody said that they seen me out there or some sh**.' Tyson, who has the word savage tattooed on his chest, has denied any involvement in the murders. He faces life in prison with no parole if found guilty of the two first-degree murder. Prosecutors have said the bullets used to kill Cooper, from Warwicks, and Kouzaris, from Northampton, can be traced back to Tyson. As well as the live .22 bullets found at his home they have told the jury the teenager asked friends to get rid of the murder weapon. The gun was later sold and had never been recovered. But police were led to seven spent shell casings that are of the same calibre as those used in the murders. Defence lawyers have said Tysons fingerprints were not found on any of the bullets and witnesses who cooperated with police had made deals to avoid lengthy prison sentences. She said the two brothers who were involved in the disposal of the murder weapon were liars with lengthy criminal records. Earlier, Detective John Todd told the jury of nine men and five men that a witness in the case Marvin Gaines had told police Tyson had admitted to the killings. Tyson, who turned 17 on the opening day of the trial, is also said to have bragged about the murders to his friend Latrice Washington. Prosecutors told the jury he told her that the British tourists pleaded for their lives but he shot them when they said they had no money.

Unsuspecting: James Cooper (right) and James Kouzaris (left) were drunk and lost at the time of their murder

Detective John Todd said the only reason the men were found with their trousers pulled down was because they were victims of a robbery. Asked by prosecutor Karen Fraivillig why the mens trousers were pulled down he said: 'In this case all the evidence points to an attempted robbery.' A court in Sarasota, Florida, has been shown graphic crime scene photos of the two men after they were shot dead last April while on holiday in the town. Prosecutors say Shawn Tyson forced to men to strip off after ambushing them as they stumbled through a run down housing estate in the Newtown area of the city.

Todds insistence that both men were forced to drop their trousers as part of the robbery came after Tysons lawyer Carolyn Schlemmer said there were a 'thousand reasons' why the men were found semi naked. 'There could be a thousand different reasons for which pants are down, correct?' Schlemmer asked Todd, the lead detective in the murder investigation. Schlemmer pointed out that nothing had been taken from the victims, who still had a digital camera and about 80 in cash on them. 'You are not aware of anything haven been taken from Kouzaris and Cooper?' Schlemmer asked. Both men had been shot multiple times with their personal possessions, including wallets and mobile phones, scattered on the ground.

Tyson faces life in jail without parole now that he was found guilty of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have told a jury Tyson lay in wait for Cooper, 25,and Kouzaris, 24, as they stumbled drunk through The Courts housing project after getting lost. Both men pleaded for their lives but were shot multiple times as they attempted to flee from Tyson and another man who has never been caught. Eyewitnesses have placed Tyson at the scene of the shooting and a trace of Tysons DNA was found on Coopers jeans. Yesterday the court heard how the two British holidaymakers were dining and drinking in the city's downtown with Cooper's parents on the night of April 15. The entire party was staying at a Longboat Key beach condo. Cooper's parents went back to the condo in a car and urged the two young men to take a cab back home. The pair went to two bars and left on foot after several drinks. But shortly before 3am, they ended up in a crime-ridden neighbourhood more than a mile from the bars. Witnesses said they saw Cooper and Kouzaris walking shirtless and stumbling through the neighbourhood. They also reported that they were being followed by two black men, one with a red bandanna around part of his face.

Prosecutor Ed Brodsky said Tyson told a friend that the men were lost and that he then tried to rob them. The tourists told Tyson they did not have any money and pleaded for their lives. Brodsky said Tyson told his friend: 'Since you ain't got no money, then I have something for your a**.' The tourists' bodies were found shirtless on the street. Both men still had their wallets and did have money. Cooper also had a mobile telephone and camera in his trouser pocket.

Gunned down: James, 24, from Northampton (right) and James, 25, from Warwickshire, were murdered during a holiday in Florida with family and friends

Authorities later found that Kouzaris' blood alcohol level was 0.243 and Cooper's was 0.214 - well past Florida's legal limit for intoxication, which is 0.08.

Just a kid: Because Tyson was only 16 at the time of the murders, he will not be given the death penalty

Defence lawyer Carolyn Schlemmer said during her opening statement that there is nothing to tie Tyson to the shootings as no murder weapon was ever recovered. She said many of the people slated to testify against Tyson were either pressured by authorities, made deals with authorities in exchange for information on Tyson, or were unreliable drug users and convicted felons. Other witnesses lied to law enforcement, Schlemmer said. 'No witnesses will testify that they saw Tyson shoot Cooper and Kouzaris,' Schlemmer told the jury. 'Keep an open mind.' But, in opening the prosecution case, Assistant State Attorney Brodsky said: 'The reason you are here today and what this case is about are the tragic events that occurred just shortly less than a year ago. 'On April 16, 2011, at approximately three in the morning, two British men who were here on vacation would find that they would die at the hands of gunfire.' Pointing at Tyson, who wore an orange shirt and tie, he said: 'The evidence will conclusively demonstrate to you that this man right here is responsible for the deaths of James Cooper and James Kouzaris.

Accused: Shawn Tyson is on trial for the murders of British tourists James Cooper and James Kouzaris

'You will find that this case is about two different sets of boys, men, who seized opportunities. 'The [victims] travelled approximately 4,500 miles to be here and you are going to hear that just three days prior to James Cooper's death he had just turned 25 years old. 'James Kouzaris was 24 years old and the evening leading to this event they were with James Cooper's parents, they had travelled abroad with James Cooper's mother, James Cooper's father and a friend of theirs. 'And you are going to learn that at approximately 2.56am in the morning, that residents and neighbours in the Newtown area would report hearing between six and eight gunshots ring out in the neighbourhood.' The court heard that autopsies showed Cooper was shot four times - three of the bullets went straight through his body, the fatal one into his chest, perforating his left lung and ending up in his heart. Kouzaris had been shot twice in the back and was killed by a bullet which perforated his spleen, diaphragm, left lung and his heart. The bullets were from a 0.22 calibre weapon.

Murder scene: James Cooper and James Kouzaris were found dead on this one way street which is off the usual tourist trail

Brodsky said one witness, who was staying with his girlfriend, would describe hearing noise outside at about 2.45am. He said: 'He saw two white males walking eastbound down Carver or Gore Court. 'He would describe the two men as being shirtless, he would describe the men as appearing to be drunk because they stumbled and he would describe that as the two men walked down the street that he saw two black males crouching and watching them as they walked by. 'He will then tell you that approximately one minute or so later he heard gunshots ring out and that several minutes thereafter the police would arrive.' Another witness, who was driving with her girl friends, described seeing two white men, shirtless, and two black men standing in front of them. Brodsky said a friend of Tyson's, Jermaine Bane, would describe seeing the teenager on the night of the murders. He received a call from him, but thought it was accidental as he heard Tyson telling someone there were two white men walking in the area, but then hung up.

He said about five or ten minutes later he heard gunshots, and shortly afterwards Tyson called him and asked if he had heard shots. When he said yes, the teenager told him to go outside and see if there were any bodies out there. 'He will also describe Shawn Tyson as sounding out of breath and that he was breathing heavy', Brodsky said. Bane will also describe seeing Tyson with a revolver, which he would frequently carry wrapped in a red bandanna, he added. Another witness, who lived opposite Tyson, described seeing the teenager jump into the window of his apartment shortly after the gunshots. The prosecutor told the court that Tyson told another witness he had 'done 'em', referring to the two Britons. And witness Marvin Gaines said Tyson told him he

had put the gun under his house and, when he asked why, he told him: 'Those two bodies back there, I did that'. Gaines said he later gave the gun to Bane and buried seven shell casings from that weapon in his yard.

Video: Opening statements in the murder trial of Shawn Tyson

MOST READ NEWS


l l l l l

Previous 1 2 3 Next

Former Pakistani dancing girl commits suicide 12 years after...

Petrol, pasties and the politics of panic: No.10 shambles...

Suspended THREE times for drugs, truancy and graffiti and...

Married couple 'strangled teacher, doused her naked body in...

They will haunt your thoughts forever: Family...

Boy, 13, who 'shot dead his mother, 37, with a hunting rifle...

Marilyn in her prime: Monroe poses at the aged of 27 for her...

Harry the hungry hippo gives his happy handler a loving lick

'Bigger is not necessarily better': Colorado couple build...

Christian doctor 'sacked for emailing a PRAYER to hospital...

Berserk JetBlue pilot ranted about...

Perfect for a Han Solo! Film fan's incredible collection of...

Comments (114)
Newest Oldest Best rated Worst rated View all And he deserves to be there...with George Zimmerman. - Dee, NYC, 29/3/2012 02:50 Click to rate Rating 6 Report abuse They won't haunt him! On the contrary it will be his badge of honour. These people are fully indoctrinated victims, there will be no repentance, no remorse, he's made it! Lifted himself out of his hood to become a Gangsta, just what all these types long for. - Thames, London, 29/3/2012 02:50 Click to rate Rating 5 Report abuse He's the next Mumia Abu-Jamal. He'll be a cause celeb because of his race and his age. I can see the movie scripts about how he was railroaded from here. - person, Somewhere, 29/3/2012 02:44 Click to rate Rating 4 Report abuse If I had a son, he'd look just like Shawn Tyson. - Barack Obama, Washington, D.C., 29/3/2012 02:41 Click to rate Rating 6 Report abuse I don't like how he is looking so smug in the first photo its disgusting - Annika, London, 29/3/2012 02:30 Click to rate Rating 12 Report abuse Today this little fool hasn't got a clue. However, in fifty or sixty years in a small prison cell will certainly change that attitude and that smug look on his face will have long since worn off. - Paul K, Edinburgh, 29/3/2012 02:27 Click to rate Rating 13 Report abuse If he had a conscience, the two tourists would be alive. The thugs in prison won't fault him much for what he did. The thugs will relish the young meat he is. Rest assured family, friends and countrymen, this thug will regret his actions. He will reap the pain he has sown. Not a civilized justice, but justice nonetheless. - KK, USA, 29/3/2012 02:26 Click to rate Rating 10 Report abuse 'You might think that being a man is carrying a gun, but it isn't, That's true, but being an american male and carrying a gun is what makes you a man! Sick, sick usa! - JP, Denver, usa , 29/3/2012 02:22 Click to rate Rating 34 Report abuse How you can relate this to a hate crime i really dont understand, this has got nothing to do with race nationality or whatever this is just a bad human being period, there are some people in this world that just want to cause it harm, we should just accept that he is a very bad person and be thankful he has been caught and given life sentence he will have to live with what he has done everyday of his life sentence then dis a lonely death

- jamal, west midlands, 29/3/2012 02:21 Click to rate Rating 17 Report abuse Death penalty please. - George, London, 29/3/2012 02:19 Click to rate Rating 49 Report abuse

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2121855/Sarasota-murder-Shawn-Tyson-17-GUILTY-killing-2-British-tourists-Florida.html

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

Associated Newspapers Ltd