Blunder freed Florida youth alleged with killing Sheffield University pals

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Two Sheffield University graduates shot dead in Florida may still be alive were it not for a communications blunder that allowed the alleged gunman to be freed from court just hours earlier, it has emerged.

James Cooper and James Kouzaris, who met while studying in the city, were killed in a notorious housing estate in Sarasota in the early hours of Saturday, April 16.

The alleged gunman, Shawn Tyson, aged 16, had been released from custody less than 12 hours earlier after spending eight days in a juvenile jail accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

During his first court appearance, a judge had branded him a ‘danger to the community’ and ordered he should not be released.

Chief Judge Lee Haworth ordered prosecutors to increase the charges or find another way to keep Tyson jailed when he first appeared before the court on April 8.

He also ordered a detective be at the next hearing to relay information about the case.

But Sarasota Police said they had not received the request and so no detective was present at Tyson’s second appearance on April 15.

Juvenile Judge Deno Economou released him on police bail after probation officers said he would be looked after by his mother.

Within 12 hours, he is believed to have shot Mr Cooper, 25, and Mr Kouzaris, 24, in a suspected botched robbery.