21/03/2012 04:31 GMT

Teen Shawn Tyson, Accused Of Shooting Two Brits In Florida, Goes On Trial

The prosecution and defence will open their cases today in the trial of a teenager accused of shooting dead two Britons in Florida.

Shawn Tyson is accused of killing 25-year-old James Cooper and friend James Kouzaris, 24, in Sarasota in April last year.

Tyson, who turned 17 on Monday, has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder and faces life in prison if he is convicted of the murders.

After two days of jury selection at Sarasota court, the final stage will be today, then the prosecution and defence in the trial will both make opening statements.

James Cooper

Kouzaris, from Northampton, was holidaying with Cooper and his family, from Hampton Lucy, near Warwick, when they were killed in the early hours of April 16.

The men were staying in Longboat Key, 12 miles from the murder scene, and were out drinking in central Sarasota, but were found dead in the town's rundown Newtown area, 20 blocks away.

They had spent the night having dinner with Cooper's parents, then bar-hopping, and planned to take a taxi home, but are believed to have walked into the impoverished area.

It remains unclear how they came to be in the housing project, known as The Courts, and why they walked instead of taking a cab.

Tyson, who wore dark trousers and a shirt and tie in court yesterday, lives near where the men's bodies were found, and was arrested a day after the killings.

James Kouzaris

The double murder was thought to have been a botched robbery - although the victims still had cash in their wallets, and a mobile phone and digital camera.

Police searches of Tyson's bedroom are said to have found two .22 calibre bullets, the same size police said were used to kill Kouzaris and Cooper.

Following several anonymous tips, a new search of the teenager's home found a black ski mask and another .22 round.

The teenager's mother Kenyatta Whitfield was in court yesterday and was seen mouthing: "I love you Shawn" to her son.