England

Shawn Tyson trial: Jurors told of prison phone call

Shawn Tyson
Image caption Mr Tyson denies two counts of first-degree murder

A teenager accused of murdering two British tourists said on the phone that bullet casings found by police could "f*** him up", a Florida court heard.

The court was played the recording of the call Shawn Tyson, 17, made to his half brother from prison.

Mr Tyson denies murdering James Cooper, 25, of Warwickshire and James Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, who were shot dead in Sarasota last April.

Mr Tyson allegedly told a friend he had killed the men, the court was told.

Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris were found shirtless and with their trousers round their thighs after being shot several times.

Mr Tyson allegedly tried to rob the men who had drunkenly walked into a rundown public housing project in Newtown known as The Courts, the court has heard.

The defendant, who was 16 at the time of the deaths, has been charged as an adult.

'DNA on clothes'

Mr Tyson, who denies two counts of first-degree murder, faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

At the hearing on Friday, the court was played a call Mr Tyson made from Sarasota County Jail which was recorded by police.

In the conversation, Mr Tyson tells his half-brother "Somebody say they saw me out there..", adding: "they found the bullets".

Asked about the discovery, the defendant replies: "It's the only thing that's going to f*** me up."

The jury was told that Mr Tyson's DNA was found on James Cooper's trousers and was shown the bloodstained clothes.

Earlier, Detective John Todd told the court Mr Tyson allegedly told his friend Marvin Gaines he had killed the men.

Prosecutor Karen Frailling asked Mr Todd, the lead detective in the case: "Did Marvin Gaines also say that Shawn Tyson told him 'I killed those two guys, you know those two bodies back there, I did that?"

Mr Todd replied: "He said that Tyson escorted him into the apartment so that nobody else could hear and told him that he killed the two people at the back of the projects."

Image caption Mr Kouzaris (left) was on holiday with Mr Cooper and his family

Mr Gaines told police the defendant had hidden the gun used under his house, then Mr Gaines had passed this to another friend, the court heard.

Mr Cooper, of Hampton Lucy, and Mr Kouzaris were on holiday with Mr Cooper's family when they were killed in the early hours of 16 April.

The detective said "all the evidence pointed to an attempted robbery" as the reason the victims had their trousers pulled down.

Defence lawyer Carolyn Schlemmer told the court few people had been honest with police in the case - some had been threatened while some had been offered plea deals or benefits to encourage them to testify.

She asked Mr Todd: "Very few people in this case were initially truthful to you, correct?"

The officer replied: "Correct."

Jurors heard Mr Gaines was told by police that it was in his interest to be on the side of Sarasota Police Department.

Mr Todd admitted saying: "You could be at the defence table with Shawn, is that where you want to be?"

The court was told Joshua Bane, a witness and friend of Mr Tyson's, was apparently not arrested over reports he was seen waving a gun around the housing project area.

The trial continues.

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