Murdered Britons 'begged for lives'

James Cooper and James Kouzaris were shot dead in Sarasota, Florida, last April

Shawn Tyson denies killing two Britons in Florida (Saratosa Police Department/PA)

First published in National News © by

Two British holidaymakers in Florida allegedly gunned down by a teenager trying to rob them had begged to be let go and return home, a court has heard.

James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, were shot in the rundown Newtown area of Sarasota in the early hours of April 16 last year.

The men, who were holidaying with Mr Cooper's family, drunkenly stumbled into the public housing project known as The Courts. They were found shirtless and with their trousers round their thighs after being shot several times.

Shawn Tyson, 17, denies two counts of first-degree murder and, if convicted, faces life in jail without parole.

At the opening of his trial on Thursday, prosecutor Ed Brodsky said the case was "about two different sets of boys, men, who seized opportunities".

He said witnesses have linked bullet casings matching those that killed the men to Tyson, and Tyson's DNA was found on Mr Cooper's jeans.

The court heard that Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, and Mr Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, Warwick, were found on opposite sites of the street, shirtless and with their trousers pulled down. But both still had their wallet and money - Mr Cooper had 63.45 US dollars while Mr Kouzaris had 62.05 dollars - and the former also had his mobile phone and camera.

Mr Brodsky said Tyson had boasted about shooting the Britons after trying to rob them, describing how they had pleaded with him.

The prosecutor said Tyson boasted that he said: "Well, since you ain't got no money then I have something for your ass!", then began shooting them both.

But Tyson's defence attorney Carolyn Schlemmer said Tyson did not commit the murders. She said no murder weapon was ever recovered, and bullet casings found could not be linked directly to Tyson.

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