THE TEENAGER who killed James Cooper and his friend James Kouzaris will spend his life behind bars after having his appeal overturned.
Shawn Tyson shot dead 25 year-old Mr Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, and Mr Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, after they strayed into a tourist no-go area of Sarasota while holidaying in Florida in April 2011.
Tyson – who was 16 at the time of the killings – was tried as an adult, and convicted of first-degree murder in March 2012. He was given two life terms for the premeditated shooting of the friends.
But shortly after the trial, the Supreme Court ruled it was a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Tyson had to be re-sentenced last week, with the family of Mr Kouzaris flying to Florida to be in the Sarasota courtroom to hear the result.
In a victim impact statement the Herald-Tribune reported James’ mother Hazel Kouzaris said: “Thanks to you Mr Tyson I’ve had to endure a deep sadness that eats away at me. We’ve joined a club that no one ever wants to join, and no one ever leaves.
“I’ve lost my future, my past, my meaning. Our daughter was forced to change overnight and become the sister of a murder victim. So many lives have been ruined by your actions.”
Just a week before the killings Tyson had been arrested for shooting at a car, but because of an administrative error was released to the care of his mother.
Less than 24 hours later he attempted to rob the two men but after realising he ‘would not get what he wanted’ shot Mr Cooper four times and Mr Kouzaris was shot in the back twice as he attempted to run away.
Circuit judge Charles E Roberts re-sentenced Tyson to two consecutive life terms for the murders.
He said: “These crimes have had a devastating impact on the family of the victims and the victims’ friends.
“I’m glad the family and friends travelled thousands of miles to share their thoughts and express the impact these crimes have had upon them. They have not and may never recover from these senseless crimes.”