TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Korattiyil family remains shocked and devastated weeks after Mathew Korattiyil was murdered by a convicted felon.
“This is a very tough time for our family,” Korattiyil’s son, Melvin, said over the phone Tuesday. “We want to make sure my father’s legacy is continued and heard.”
Just hours before speaking to 8 On Your Side, friends and family members were in court to witness the arraignment of suspect James Hanson, Jr. It comes weeks after Hanson tried to commit suicide at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Hillsborough County. The attempt failed, and Tuesday, Hanson appeared in court in a wheelchair.
“I thought it was a very cowardly act on his part,” Melvin Korattiyil said about Hanson’s attempt to escape justice.
Hanson, 39, was arrested in early August and charged with first degree murder, carjacking, robbery, grand theft and resisting arrest. He’s accused of carjacking Korattiyil from a bank parking lot in Valrico, then killing him hours later. His body was found behind a church.
His son wants the focus to shift from the suspect to his father, who retired less than two years ago after spending decades operating a Hillsborough County convenience store.
“[He was] enjoying the fruits of his labor,” Melvin said about his father’s retirement.
“You couldn’t find a more innocent person,” his son said.
The family remains steadfast in its pursuit of justice and also thanks people throughout the Bay Area for their support during an incredibly difficult time.
“We’re really grateful for the support from the community,” Melvin said.