Carjacking, murder suspect appears in court for first time since jailhouse suicide attempt

Nearly a month after attempting to take his own life, the man accused of killing his carjacking victim showed up in court.

Wheelchair-bound defendant James Hanson was wheeled into a Tampa courtroom Tuesday morning for his arraignment on murder and carjacking charges. Hanson has been in the hospital since his suicide attempt at Hillsborough County Jail in August.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe asked Hanson if he could raise his right hand to be sworn in. Hanson struggled to lift his right hand a few inches. Judge Wolfe asked if he understood his right to show up for every court appearance, and Hanson slowly replied, "Yes." 

Two weeks ago, Hillsborough public defender Julie Holt and prosecutor Jay Pruner said Hanson was not physically able to make it to court for his arraignment. They explained he was hooked up to medical devices and monitors that helped his condition.

Due to privacy concerns, Pruner was not able to share Hanson's medical condition in open court. Early reports indicated he was in critical condition and may have suffered brain trauma. 

Once an arrest is made, a defendant has a right to go to trial in 180 days or waive a speedy trial. During Tuesday's court hearing, Pruner asked the judge to put Hanson's speedy trial clock on "hold" until he is competent to stand trial. Judge Wolfe agreed. 

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In August, Hanson was accused of robbing a Valrico bank, carjacking a driver, Matthew Kirattiyil, and later killing him. 

Weeks earlier, Hanson had been given a second chance at life. He had just served 17 year of a life sentence and was released early in exchange for helping prosecutors on an unrelated case.