Mental health exam ordered for accused boat vandal

  • Bhajan Manu Morris
  • Photo courtesy of MAGGIE BROWN This image captured from surveillance video aboard the Kanoa II shows a suspect preparing to disembark the Kanoa II on Monday night. The man allegedly swam out to the Kanoa II, which is owned by Body Glove Cruises, and vandalized the vessel before removing items.

KAILUA-KONA — A judge ordered a mental health exam for a 37-year-old man accused of vandalizing a Body Glove Cruises vessel Monday night as it was moored in Kailua Bay.

Bhajan Manu Morris, also known as BJ Morris, made his initial appearance Thursday in Kona District Court following his arrest Wednesday morning. He faces charges of second-degree theft, fourth-degree criminal property damage and making a false statement to authorities in connection with the incident.

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During the hearing, Morris’ public defender motioned for a mental health examination to determine his client’s fitness to proceed, according to court records. The state raised no objection.

Per Diem Judge Charles H. Hite granted the defense’s motion and suspended proceedings pending doctors’ findings. Reports from the three doctors are due back Oct. 10.

Morris, who has no permanent address, is slated to appear in court Oct. 17 for a hearing for the matter. He remains in custody in lieu of $2,750 bond.

Morris’ arrest occurred after Maggie Brown, owner of the Kanoa II and Body Glove Cruises in Kailua-Kona, posted video and sounded off on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon after her vessel was boarded without authorization and vandalized, resulting in missing items and more than $5,100 in damage. She also offered $1,000 for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Kailua-Kona resident Aimee Russell saw that post and recognized the man, and his tattoo, the following day while driving in the Kailua Village area. She called police, who subsequently arrested the man, later identified as Morris.

Brown made good on her reward offer, giving Russell and her husband, Jonathon Russell, the $1,000 just hours before the pair was to set off on an already planned vacation.

Morris was the subject of a missing persons bulletin issued Sept. 6 by Hawaii Police. According to the bulletin, he’d last been seen Aug. 30 in Kailua-Kona.

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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.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.