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Tourist slayings suspect held on unrelated charges

April 22, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

SARASOTA (AP) - The teenager charged with fatally shooting two British tourists in Florida was ordered held without bond Friday on five felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a separate crime.

Sixteen-year-old Shawn Tyson had a first court appearance at the Sarasota County jail on charges that he fired into an occupied car during an unrelated dispute earlier this month.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported that missteps in the handling of the case allowed Tyson to be released April 16. Early the next day, authorities say he fatally shot James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24.

A public defender appeared for Tyson at the Friday hearing. Tyson will appear on charges related to the British tourists' slaying at a later date and he is expected to be charged as an adult.

In the previous shooting, Tyson was arrested and had a first court appearance hearing on April 8. At the hearing, Chief Judge Lee Haworth raised questions about whether the teen posed a danger to the community. He also ordered a detective familiar with the case to present more information at the next hearing.

According to the newspaper, the Sarasota Police Department says it never received the order, and the detective did not attend the April 15 hearing. During that hearing, which was before Juvenile Judge Deno Economou, prosecutors did not mention the previous judge's concerns.

Records also show prosecutors did not object to a Department of Juvenile Justice recommendation that the teen be released to home detention even though his mother had told the court she often didn't know where the boy stayed.

The hearing lasted three minutes and the teen was released later that day.

Sometime around 3 a.m. the next day, April 16, police say the teen shot the British tourists in the city's high-crime Newtown neighborhood.

Police are still trying to determine why the men had gone to the neighborhood.



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