Preliminary hearing set for accused boat vandal

  • This image captured from surveillance video aboard the Kanoa II shows the suspect preparing to disembank the Kanoa II Sept. 10. The man allegedly swam out the Kanoa II owned by Body Gloves Cruises and vandalized the vessel before removing items. (Maggie Brown/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Bhajan Morris is taken into custody shortly after 10 a.m. Sept. 11. The man allegedly swam out the Kanoa II owned by Body Gloves Cruises and vandalized the vessel before removing items. (Maggie Brown/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Bhajan Manu Morris

KEALAKEKUA — A preliminary hearing is set for Friday for a 37-year-old man accused of vandalizing the Body Glove vessel Sept. 10 as it sat moored in Kailua Bay.

Bhajan Manu Morris, who also goes by BJ Morris, was deemed fit to proceed with the case during a hearing Wednesday before District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga. The judge made the determination after reviewing doctors reports submitted by Andrew Bisset, Henry H. Yang and Welli Weiss.

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Morris faces second-degree theft, fourth-degree criminal property damage and making a false statement to authorities in connection with the 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.

During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors will work to show they have sufficient probable cause to support the charges. Should the judge find probable cause exists, the case will be transferred to Circuit Court for trial.

Morris remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $2,750 bail.

Morris was arrested Sept. 11, a day after Maggie Brown, owner of the Kanoa II and Body Glove Cruises in Kailua-Kona, posted video and sounded off on Facebook about her vessel being boarded without authorization and vandalized. She also offered $1,000 for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

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A Kailua-Kona resident saw that post and recognized the man the following day while driving in the Kailua Village area and called police. She pocketed the reward before hours before heading off with her husband on a pre-planned vacation.

Second-degree theft is a class C felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. Fourth-degree criminal property damage and making a false statement to authorities are both petty misdemeanors that carry a sentence of imprisonment up to 30 days and a fine up to $1,000, according to Hawaii Revised Statutes.

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