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Preliminary hearing held for trio accused in woman's killing

Prosecutors called on witnesses to describe the events surrounding the murder of 23-year-old Alma Matias.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Prosecutors revealed new evidence Friday in the July killing of a 23-year-old Knoxville woman.

Jason Young, Jaquayshja Ryans and Tyrone Mack appeared in Knox County General Sessions Court for a preliminary hearing. They are accused of killing Alma Matias and helping dispose of her body.

She's believed to have been killed July 29 in Ryans' apartment at the Ridgebrook Apartments. Authorities say her body was dumped in woods near Northshore Drive, where a jogger found it the next day.

A Knoxville woman subpoenaed to testify said in Friday's hearing she was inside Apt. 126 when Matias was killed. Audreyionna Woods told a judge she heard gunshots and then saw Matias lying on the floor, with several bullet holes in her back.

She said Mack and Young had pistols and they picked up spent shell casings after the shooting. Woods testified she was at the apartment doing Ryans' hair at the time.

"Once I start doing her hair, probably 20 minutes go by, six or seven shots go off," she said.

Matias' body was found later, nude and wrapped in a blanket off Northshore. Chris Allison, a Knox County Sheriff's Office detective, described security camera footage from Ridgebrook Apartments that showed Young, Ryans and Mack moving Matias' body from an apartment and into her maroon Chrysler.

In the footage, Young wore a mask and surgical gloves. Allison said he was recognizable in particular because he has a limp.

He also said video surveillance, a license plate reader and facial recognition software provided key evidence in the case.

He said with that evidence, investigators were able to connect the dots between Matias' burned Chrysler in the Powell area to her body being found in West Knox County. Allison also said he could see several bullet wounds in her left shoulder.

Authorities also said Young bought gas at a convenience store earlier, where security cameras also recorded his face. After that, they said he set fire to Matias' car and left it to burn.

"We were able to identify still pictures that we obtained and did a facial recognition through our cyber unit," said Allison.

When asked who authorities identified through that facial recognition system, he said Jason Lamont Young.

Judy Tony Stansberry ruled there was probably cause for a grand jury to consider if Young and Mack committed murder. The panel will also weigh whether Ryans abused Matias' body and tampered with evidence.

Knox County prosecutor Danielle Jones represented the state. Hoai Robinette represented Young; Mike Whalen represented Mack; and Julia Trant represented Ryans.

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