NewsHillsborough County


Suspect strangled carjacking victim with belt, stole his clothes before leaving him in bushes, affidavit says

James Hanson
Posted at 3:10 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 17:24:08-04

VALRICO, Fla. -- An affidavit from deputies reveals disturbing details of the armed suspect's encounter with the carjacking victim, as well as what he told authorities on scene after robbing a bank in Valrico Tuesday morning.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office initially responded to a call of a possible armed bank robbery at the CenterState Bank in the 1800 block of Fl-60 East in Valrico. As the armed bank robbery suspect was trying to leave the bank, the suspect pointed a gun at 68-year-old Mathew Korattiyil, shoved him to the passenger's side of his white 2019 Lexus SUV and carjacked him.

James Hanson 2
James Hanson

After the carjacking suspect, 39-year-old James Hanson, took control of the SUV, he fled the bank, went over to the Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Church on Washington Road and parked the SUV the back of the church.

According to the affidavit, Korattiyil was pleading with Hanson to let him go but Hanson told him no because "there are cops everywhere." Hanson told deputies Korattiyil punched him and tried to get away but Hanson chased him down, strangled Korattiyil with his bare hands before strangling him again with the a belt, the affidavit said.

Hanson then took Korattiyil's clothes to hide some DNA evidence and then dragged Korattiyil's unconscious body to the bushes and covered him with grass before leaving the church in the stolen vehicle, the affidavit said.

RELATED: Missing carjacking victim found dead

Hanson then went west out of the church and took the long way back to his home. During the drive, Hanson threw Korattiyil's clothes out of the window. Once he got to his home, Hanson threw took off the clothes he had on and went to leave in the stolen SUV again. As soon as he got in the SUV, deputies spotted Hanson and a high-speed chase ensued.

After the chase ended in a crash and a foot chase, deputies were able to apprehend Hanson. Hanson initially told deputies he didn't know about the bank robbery or kidnapping.

While in custody, Hanson told authorities he wanted to speak with someone "high up" to make the robbery and carjacking charges go away, in exchange for Korattiyil's location. HCSO contacted Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner, who agreed to meet with Hanson.

Pruner met with Hanson and made it clear that there wans't going to be a deal in place. After Pruner left the meeting, deputies spoke with Hanson and the suspect eventually agreed to take them to where Korattiyil's body was, the affidavit said.

Hanson also told authorities he panicked after not getting any money from the botched bank robbery so he carjacked Korattiyil. He also tried to cover up the evidence by offering money to a friend to "get rid of the vehicle," according to the affidavit.

RELATED: Valrico carjacking suspect, James Hanson, has lengthy criminal past including a life-sentence

Hanson was ultimately charged with the following felonies:

  • Pre-Meditated First Degree Murder
  • Carjacking
  • Grand Theft Motor Vehicle
  • Kidnapping
  • Resisting an Officer with Violence
  • Robbery (Less than $300)

HCSO is continuing to investigate how Korattiyil died.

Korattiyil leaves behind three children and several grandchildren, James said. He also owned a convenience store on Valrico Road in Dover.

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