Florida Murders
'You stole our friends' - close friends confront killer

By Steve Hayes 29/03 Updated: 03/04 09:56

Buy photos » Joe Hallett. (s)

AFTER Shawn Tyson was found guilty of the murders of James Cooper and James Kouzaris, two close friends of the murdered pair were given the opportunity to speak directly to the man who took them away before he was sentenced.

Here we feature extracts of the powerful and courageous speeches of the two young men.

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.

"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.

"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 April 16 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.

"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.

"You’ve taken the lives of two of our friends, but you can’t take our memories.”

Paul Davies:

"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."

Buy photos» Paul Davies. (s)

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