A 24-year-old man accused of a brutal attack and trying to set another man on fire will be confined to the Hawaii State Hospital for at least 30 days, where he will undergo a mental evaluation.
On Tuesday, prosecutors upped the charge against Jamal Morris to felony assault.
Prison officials tell KHON2 that Morris was involved in a fight while being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
Officials say a charge like this does not happen often, but in this case, a doctor’s exam of the victim’s injuries was enough to warrant a more serious charge.
Thirty-year-old Maseeh Ganjali still has blurry vision out of his right eye. He claims it was nearly gouged out by Morris.
“I’m trying to still make sense of the situation, to be honest,” Ganjali said.
At least now Ganjali knows Morris will face tougher charges.
Following the attack, Morris was arrested for third-degree assault — a misdemeanor with $1,000 bail.
Ganjali was outraged and turned to KHON2 News.
“The response we got the next day after it was broadcast on the news was completely different. The detective told me his superior, and his superior, and his superior are monitoring this case and I was happy to hear that,” Ganjali said.
Now, Morris faces a felony charge of first-degree assault and $100,000 bail.
The prosecutor’s office says after talking with Ganjali’s doctor at the Queens Medical Center, his injuries warranted a tougher charge.
“This is a common situation for us at Queen’s Medical Center. As the busiest trauma center in the state, we see over 62,000 patients a year,” said Dr. Derek Uemura of the Queen’s Medical Center Emergency Room.
Dr. Uemura says police and prosecutors turn to the hospital on a daily basis to help determine the severity of a crime.
“We do often talk to police officers and detectives and prosecuting attorneys after the fact to provide more information about the case,” Dr. Uemura said.
In this case, it prompted a more hefty charge and bail against Morris.
Ganjali is also relieved Morris won’t be back on the street, at least for another month while he undergoes a mental evaluation.
Morris’ attorney tells KHON2 he is dealing with mental health issues.
“It’s in everyone’s benefit if Jamal Morris gets the help he needs, serves the time he needs. He’s a danger to himself and a danger to other people,” Ganjali said.
Morris’ evaluation will determine if he is mentally fit for trial and legally responsibly for the attack.
He is expected back in court at the end of June.