LONDON, UK – An American teenager, Shawn Tyson, has been found guilty of the first-degree murder of two British tourists in Florida last year.
James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, were shot dead after drunkenly wandering into a public housing estate in Newtown, Sarasota, in the early hours of April 16, 2011.
Tyson, 17, initially tried to rob both men, who told him they were drunk and begged him to let them go. Tyler responded by shooting them. Cooper had $63 on him and Kouzaris had $62 when their dead bodies were found, according to the BBC.
Tyson had pleaded not guilty to the murders, but did not take the stand or give any evidence in his defence. He was tried as an adult, despite being 16 at the time of the killings, and faces life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Cooper, a tennis coach, and Kouzaris, a town planning graduate, were friends from university and were on a three-week holiday, staying with Cooper's parents on the island of Longboat Key on Florida's west coast.
The jury was told that Tyson had boasted to friends of killing the pair as they pleaded for their lives, according to The Guardian.
Cooper and Kouzaris’ families were not in court on Wednesday, but said in a statement that Tyson was “evil,” The Daily Telegraph reports.
“We are satisfied with the verdict,” they said, adding:
“It is a fact that we were 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.”
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