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US killer of British tourists appeals against conviction and sentence


A teenager jailed for life for murdering two British tourists in Florida is appealing against his conviction and sentence, it was reported today.

Shawn Tyson was handed two life sentences last month after he was convicted of the murders of James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, in April 16 last year.

Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, and Mr Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, near Warwick, were shot dead after they drunkenly walked into a rundown public housing estate in Sarasota in the early hours of April 16 last year.

It took a jury just two hours to convict Tyson, who was 16 at the time of the killings, of two counts of first degree murder. The 17-year-old avoided the death penalty because of his age.

But the teenager's public defender Carolyn Schlemmer is appealing against the conviction and sentence, the Herald-Tribune reported.

According to the newspaper Ms Schlemmer has named nearly a dozen grounds for the conviction to be challenged, including the racial makeup of the jury, which included 11 white jurors and one black juror, as well as the decision by Judge Rick De Furia to allow evidence that Tyson threatened people with a gun a week before the murders.

The appeal will be considered by the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, Florida, the Herald-Tribune reported.

After Tyson's trial last month, the families of Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper described the teenager - who sports a tattoo of the word "savage" on his chest - as "evil" and expressed anger at the fact he was released from juvenile detention a day before the killings.

Tyson had been arrested on April 7 for shooting at a car, but because of an administrative error was released on April 15 to the care of his mother.

Less than 24 hours later he had shot Mr Cooper, a tennis coach, and town planner Mr Kouzaris.