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Teenager 'told friend of killings'
A teenager accused of murdering two British tourists told a friend he had killed them, a court has heard.
James Kouzaris, 24, and James Cooper, 25, were shot dead in the rundown Newtown area of Sarasota, Florida, in April last year.
The men, who were holidaying with Mr Cooper's family, drunkenly stumbled into the rundown public housing project known as The Courts.
At the opening of the trial in Sarasota on Thursday, the court heard that as Shawn Tyson allegedly tried to rob them, the men begged to be let go and return home. Tyson, 17, denies two counts of first-degree murder but if convicted faces life in jail without parole.
Mr Kouzaris, from Northampton, and Mr Cooper, from Hampton Lucy, Warwick, were found shirtless and with their trousers round their thighs after being shot several times.
The court heard that Tyson allegedly told his friend Marvin Gaines that he had killed the men. Detective John Todd was asked by prosecutor Karen Fraivillig: "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 said: "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."
The court has heard that Mr Gaines told police Tyson had hidden the gun used under his house, then Mr Gaines had passed it to another friend. Mr Gaines later led police to seven bullet casings buried in his yard.
Mr Todd also admitted there could be a "thousand different reasons" why victims Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper were found with their trousers pulled down. But he said: "In this case, all the evidence pointed to an attempted robbery."
But defence lawyer Carolyn Schlemmer said few people had been honest with police in the case, and some had been offered plea deals, some had been threatened and others had been given benefits to encourage them to testify.
She asked Mr Todd: "Very few people in this case were initially truthful to you, correct?", to which he replied, "correct". The court heard Mr Gaines was told by police that it was in his interest to be on the side of the Sarasota Police Department and not Tyson. Mr Todd admitted saying: "You could be sitting at the defence table with Shawn, is that where you want to be?"