Florida Murders
Staring down the killer of their friends

By Kevin Unitt 24/04 Updated: 24/04 14:51

Latest News

Joe Hallett (left) and Paul Davies talk directly to Shawn Tyson, the murderer of their friends, in court. (s)

AFTER Shawn Tyson was found guilty of the murders of James Cooper and James Kouzaris late last night, two friends of the murdered pair were given the opportunity, in court, to speak directly to Tyson.

The dignified, powerful and courageous speeches were as follows:

Joe Hallett:

“Shawn Tyson, I look you in the eyes and speak directly to you today, because I have to try and make you understand the pain and the constant suffering you have brought to the lives of so many people who cared, respected and loved James Kouzaris and James Cooper. It was through your deadly actions that you had taken us all on a journey to hell during the last 12 months. If you had pulled up a chair, instead of pulling out a gun, you’d have learned that these two kind, funny, caring and intelligent young men were incredibly unique human beings, who really understood, appreciated and valued the important things in life. Family and friendship topped that list. They were decent human beings. They would judge a person by what is on the inside. They wouldn’t judge a person by the way they spoke, their appearance or the area they were raised in. You murdered two people who if you had given them a chance would have given you the time of day.

There is not a single person who has ever had bad words to say about either of them, because quite simply, they were two of the good guys in life. I would have done anything for both of them in life, they were that special to me. It's a big hole in my heart that can never be repaired. Every night you go to sleep, and every morning you wake up, I want you to think of my friends who you murdered. Their images will be imprinted on your conscience until your very last breath in life. James Kouzaris and James Cooper continue to inspire those who knew them, yet they will haunt your thoughts forever.

You pierced both of their hearts with bullets, and you also robbed my friends of their dignity, their freedom, and their future. You have ripped the hearts out of so many of us.

Shawn Tyson, I need you to understand the pain you caused, and the amazing personalities that you have killed. It is the responsibility of every human being to aspire to do something worthwhile to make the world a better place than the one he found. Life is a gift, and if we choose to accept it, we must contribute in return.

You have failed life. You've been failed by your family, your friends, the educational system, and your local community. But these failures don’t excuse your actions on the 16th of April that will now determine your future. You murdered two defenseless young men. You sit in front of me today believing that you only killed two people. That’s not true. In the future, James Kouzaris and James Cooper would have become fathers to the children they will now never have because of your pointless act.

I hope that you and your family suffer every single second of every single day, just as the loved ones of James Kouzaris and James Cooper suffer. You killed two innocent human beings who touched the lives of so many people they met in their short lives. For every painful detail of their deaths I’ve endured, for each disturbing photo I’ve been exposed to, I’m still glad I had this opportunity to look into your eyes and try to explain the pain that you’ve caused.

I’ll never hear my friends laugh again. I’ll never again witness their infectious smiles. I’ll never watch them joke with each other. I won’t be present at their weddings. I won’t see their children grow up. And I won't get the opportunity to look them in the eyes and tell them they were two incredible men who touched my life. They were very special. Two true friends who’re on the same wavelength, who enjoyed spending time together, and who loved each other dearly. They were a shining example of true friendship. You’ve taken the lives of two of our friends, but you can’t take our memories.”

Paul Davies:

“On March 26, 2011, I was on a flight back to the U.K. with my best friend. We had just traveled through South America and we were now talking about the future. We were both excited about the next stage of our lives; I was moving to London with another good friend, and he was planning to spend a year in Australia before joining us back in England. I was excited for him, but I also knew I would miss him while he was away; he was like a brother to me and we’d spent almost every day together for the past three years. That friend was James Kouzaris, the man you decided to shoot through the heart, just because he was lost, drunk and defenseless. Now, instead of one year without him, I have to live the rest of my life knowing I will never get the chance to see him again. When I get married, I’ll be short of a best man. When my children are growing up, they will never get the chance to be friends with his children, and I'll never get the opportunity to look back on our lives with him and laugh at the stupid things we used to get up to. The friend that I was moving to London with was James Cooper, the man you also decided to shoot dead despite the fact that he was unarmed and pleading for his life. Likewise, he will never get the opportunity to find his wife, settle down, have kids, and enjoy life. Like James Kouzaris, he was a good man.

If either of them had been standing in their neighborhood at 3am, I’m sure at first they would have wondered what you were up to, and maybe even approached you. But if they had asked you what you were doing there, and you explained that you were lost and drunk, and just wanted to go home, they would, at the very least, have given you directions or let you use their cell phone to call a taxi. I’m even going to bet that they would have even paid for it if you had no money and needed help. That's not just because they were good people, it’s because they were men.

You might think that being a man is about carrying a gun, but it isn't. Wearing a mask and shooting two guys in cold blood is being a coward. Being a man is about recognizing that you're only on this planet once, and that you are judged on your actions while you're alive. James Kouzaris and James Cooper chose to smile at life and take advantage of every opportunity. They chose to make friends with people regardless of where they were from or what they looked like. That is what they will be remembered for. The stupid thing about what you did that night is that you’ve ended your life, too. You're now going to spend the rest of your life in prison, and the one think that you will be remembered for is ending the lives of two amazing men in the most cowardly way possible.

It is my wish that you one day recognize the consequences of your actions and show remorse for what you have done. For the past week I've had to sit in this courtroom and watch photos of my two best friends lying on the ground riddled with bullet holes.”

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