Coventry & Warwickshire

Shawn Tyson life sentence thrown out in Florida tourist murder case

James Kouzaris and James Cooper Image copyright Various
Image caption Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris were shot dead in downtown Sarasota in April 2011

An American teen sentenced to life without parole for the murder of two British tourists has had his sentence overturned.

Shawn Tyson was found guilty of killing friends James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, in Sarasota, Florida, on 16 April 2011.

An appeal court upheld his conviction but his sentence was thrown out because he was 16 when the crime was committed.

The case was remanded to a lower court for a new sentencing hearing.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Shawn Tyson was 16 when Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris were killed

In his judgement, Associate Senior Judge James R. Case said Tyson's guilty judgements were affirmed "without discussion".

But his status as a juvenile homicide offender required his sentence to be re-assessed, the judge said.

He referred to a Supreme Court ruling which held that mandatory life terms without parole for juveniles violated a constitutional bar on "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Mr Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, and Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, were shot dead when they drunkenly wandered into the Newtown area.

Tyson, who was tried as an adult, was convicted of first-degree murder in March 2012.

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