Boat vandal suspect deemed unfit to proceed

  • Bhajan Manu Morris

KAILUA-KONA — A man accused of vandalizing the Body Glove vessel earlier this fall as it sat moored in Kailua Bay has been deemed unfit to proceed with the case.

Bhajan Manu Morris was found unfit to proceed Nov. 8 by 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino at the start of what would have been a stipulated facts trial after his counsel, public defender Ann Datta, motioned for the court to reconsider a previous District Court ruling that deemed Morris fit to proceed with the matter.

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Fujino made his determination after reviewing the same three reports submitted by doctors that District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga had used when she found Morris fit to proceed on Oct. 17. A subsequent preliminary hearing ultimately bound the case over to Circuit Court for trial, according to court records.

Morris, also known as BJ Morris, had been slated for a Jan. 29 jury trial after pleading not guilty on Oct. 25 to second-degree theft, fourth-degree criminal property damage and making a false statement to authorities in connection with the September incident.

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However, all further proceedings in the case have been suspended, and Morris was committed to the state Department of Health for transport and placement at Kalani Ola at Kona Community Hospital. A review of his fitness to proceed with the case is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Morris is charged in connection with the Sept. 10 incident in which he allegedly swam out to, boarded without authorization and vandalized Body Glove Cruises’ Kanoa II, causing more than $5,100 in damage and missing items. He was arrested the next day after the vessel’s owner posted the crime to Facebook and offered a reward.