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Teen in court accused of shooting British holidaymakers

ACCUSED: Shawn Tyson

TWO BRITISH tourists, who were killed as they holidayed in Florida, are believed to have begged for their lives and forced to pull their trousers down before they were shot, a court has heard.

Shawn Tyson, who turned 17 on Monday, is said to have murdered James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, after they drunkenly stumbled into the rundown Newtown neighbourhood of Sarasota.

Tyson, who us accused of attempting to rob the par before finding out that they had no money, allegedly forced them to pull down their trousers before shooting them.

He faces a life sentence if convicted, but will not face the death penalty because of his age.

The court in Sarasota 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.

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.

KILLED: James Cooper and James Kouzaris

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 and with their trousers around their thighs, it has been reported.

Both men still had their wallets and did have money. Cooper also had a mobile telephone and camera in his trouser pocket.

In opening, the prosecution, Assistant State Attorney Brodsky, said directely to Tyson: "The evidence will conclusively demonstrate to you that this man right here is responsible for the deaths of James Cooper and James Kouzaris."

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.

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.

The case continues

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