Shawn Tyson Appeals Murder Conviction in 2011 Killing of British Tourists in Newtown

In 2012, Shawn Tyson was convicted of the April 2011 murders of two British tourists in Newtown, FL. Tyson was sentenced to life in prison for the murders. Earlier this month, Tyson appealed his conviction, claiming that the sentence he was given in 2012 violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Tyson was a juvenile when he was sentenced to life behind bars. He was 16 years old when given a life sentence without the possibility of parole, according to news reports.

Tyson, who lived in Section 8 housing in Newtown, allegedly gunned down two men from Great Britain who were vacationing in Sarasota, James Kouzaris and James Cooper. The two victims had been visiting bars in the Sarasota area along Main Street, when they stumbled into Newtown and were shot by Tyson in what is said to be a botched robbery attempt.

Tyson hopes to have his conviction overturned, however it is doubtful the young man will be released from prison. More likely, according to sources, is that Tyson will get a new sentencing hearing. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a life sentence for juvenile offenders violates the Eighth Amendment. This ruling came just two short months after Tyson was sentenced to life in prison for the murders. State attorneys in the case believe that the defendant should go back to court for resentencing.

The appeal was scheduled to be argued on Wednesday, June 11 at the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland. Currently there is no further news regarding developments on the appeal.

Individuals who are convicted of murder, armed robbery, rape, and other offenses that result in substantial time or even life behind bars may have the option to appeal a conviction and/or sentencing. In this case, the fact that the defendant was 16 years old at the time is a critical factor, considering the ruling of the Supreme Court two months later. There are various factors in a criminal case which may support an appeal, including errors that may have been made by police, prosecutors, or even a judge or jurors. In some cases, testimony may be allowed which should not have been allowed, or jurors may be enlightened regarding a defendant’s past criminal history, making them biased.

Regardless of the situation, if you have been convicted and are considering an appeal, it is critical to have a highly experienced and capable Michigan criminal appeals attorney on your side. Your choice in legal counsel can mean the difference in a successful appeal.

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