Valrico carjacking, murder suspect returns to jail after suicide attempt

James Hanson, Jr. was placed on life support at Tampa General Hospital after he tried to take his life last month.
James Hanson Jr., the suspect in last month's Valrico bank robbery and subsequent carjacking and murder of 68-year-old Mathew Korattiyil, is seen at a pre-trial detention hearing on Aug. 9. Hanson was transferred back to the Hillsborough County jail after a three-week stay in Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated for injuries from a suicide attempt. [ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times]
James Hanson Jr., the suspect in last month's Valrico bank robbery and subsequent carjacking and murder of 68-year-old Mathew Korattiyil, is seen at a pre-trial detention hearing on Aug. 9. Hanson was transferred back to the Hillsborough County jail after a three-week stay in Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated for injuries from a suicide attempt. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published September 9

TAMPA — When he was first hospitalized after a jailhouse suicide attempt last month, it was unclear if James Hanson, Jr. would ever again face a judge in the case of a Valrico bank robbery and murder of a 68-year-old retiree. Hanson was placed on life support and his family was told to say their goodbyes, just in case.

Now Hanson’s condition has apparently improved enough for him to return to the county jail after a three-week hospital stay. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Hanson, 31, was transferred last week from Tampa General Hospital to the medical unit at the Falkenburg Road Jail, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amanda Granit confirmed Monday. Medical professionals decided Hanson could be brought back to the jail, Granit said in an email.

Medical privacy laws prevent officials from releasing details about a specific inmate’s condition and treatment, but in general, inmates who require life support from a ventilator can not be housed in the jail’s medical unit, Granit said.

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Hanson’s transfer came six days before his rescheduled arraignment on seven counts — including first degree murder and carjacking — in the Aug. 6 killing of Mathew Korattiyil, a beloved grandfather and retired convenience store owner.

Prosecutors say Hanson robbed the CenterState Bank in Valrico, carjacked Korattiyil in the parking lot and then strangled him to death and dumped his body behind the Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Community Center not far from the bank.

Mathew Korattiyil, 68, was carjacked and murdered on Aug. 6, authorities say. The Valrico resident was a father and grandfather and left behind a legacy as a protector of his family and his community. [Courtesy of Korattiyil family]
Mathew Korattiyil, 68, was carjacked and murdered on Aug. 6, authorities say. The Valrico resident was a father and grandfather and left behind a legacy as a protector of his family and his community. [Courtesy of Korattiyil family]

A week after his arrest, Hanson tried to kill himself by using a bed sheet to hang himself from a basketball goal in the recreation yard at the Falkenburg Road Jail. A deputy saw Hanson hanging and pulled him down. He was taken to Tampa General and listed in critical condition.

Hanson’s sister Cynthia McLemore previously told the Tampa Bay Times that her brother had been placed on a standard ventilator when he was admitted to the hospital. Then, on Aug. 21, she got a call from the hospital requesting permission to perform a tracheostomy on her brother, inserting a breathing tube through an incision in his throat.

As Hanson lay in the hospital, a grand jury indicted him on Aug. 22. At his scheduled arraignment on Aug. 29, Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt told Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe that Hanson was medically incapable of being transported to court or making decisions to aid in his defense. A sheriff’s detective who has visited Hanson every day to assess his medical condition testified that Hanson was attached to machines but did not go into detail.

Wolfe rescheduled the arraignment for Tuesday.

Because of Hanson’s medical condition, Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner has filed a motion seeking to stop the clock on the speedy trial provision. In Florida, defendants charged with felonies have a right to trial within 175 days.

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