1. ITV Report

Northampton man "begged to be let go" before being shot

James Kouzaris (left) and James Cooper (right) Photo: ITV Anglia

A court in Florida has heard how a man from Northampton and his friend begged to be let go before they were shot dead.

James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, were killed 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 as they tried to find their way home.

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

Shawn Tyson denies two counts of first-degree murder Credit: ITV Anglia

The men were on holiday with Mr Cooper's family and had been out for a meal in central Sarasota. In the early hours of April 16 they left a nightclub called the Gator Club and walked into the project.

At the opening of his trial yesterday, prosecutor Ed Brodsky 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.

Mr Kouzaris has been shot twice in the back, Mr Cooper had been shot four times, both by bullets were from a 0.22 calibre gun.

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.

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

He said Tyson told one witness: "He and another male saw the two men as they walked by and they decided to rob them.

"When Shawn Tyson, he tells her, when he confronts the victims they plead with Shawn Tyson to let them go, that they were drunk and that they were just trying to find their way home."They then tell Shawn Tyson that they don't have any money to give 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.

Police investigators later found seven 0.22 calibre casings buried in a nearby yard, and a search of Tyson's bedroom on the evening of April 16 found a 0.22 calibre bullet.

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.

"You will hear about several witnesses and you are going to hear a lot, you will hear about their deals, their benefits, what they got from this case, promises made to them.

"You will hear pressures and threats used against these witnesses by the Sarasota Police Department and the State's Attorney's Office."

More on this story

  • Emotional scenes in court

    There've been emotional scenes in a courtroom in America where a teenager was jailed for life for killing two Britons.

  • Florida shootings: background

    James Kouzaris and James Cooper were killed in Sarasota, in the early hours of the morning. Andy Bevan traces their final journey.