Before embarking on my recent cover story on Seattle’s Center City Initiative - a city-led effort to help reduce homelessness and street disorder - I knew nothing about a man by the name of Jay T Morris.
Turns out I wasn’t alone.
As those who read the cover story will recall, Morris made a name for himself as a nuisance along the waterfront, panhandling with his champagne-colored pit bull Moose. In April, after Morris had received a number of citations for violating Seattle’s sit/lie ordinance and failed to respond to any of them, the City Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest - using the warrant as a threat to prevent him from returning to the waterfront. For a while, it worked. Then recently, after a Seattle Police officer mistakenly arrested Morris on the warrant and he was released on personal recognizance. he returned. The situation had all the makings of a never-ending cycle.
As it turns out, however, Morris - who police say doesn’t carry ID - once went by a different name: Jeffrey Morin. Recently, according to SPD Sgt. Paul Gracy, a run-in with law enforcement uncovered this fact. The digging also uncovered another unsavory tidbit of Morin’s past: he was convicted of first-degree rape in 1982 for the gang rape of a woman in a hotel room, and in 2005 he was convicted of felony failure to respond as a sex offender - for which a $60,000 warrant had been issued.
The case against Morin is laid out by the King County Prosecutor’s Office in court documents filed July 13. Currently Morin’s arraignment is set for July 24. You can find the court documents attached to this post.
“I’m sure we’ve got the right guy,” says Gracy, citing fingerprint evidence and the fact Morin (or Morris) knew about the outstanding warrant when he was approached by police. “He never had an ID; people aren’t required to. When we started contacting him he said his name was Jay T. Morris.”
“Some people don’t understand that these people who float into the city sometimes aren’t the best folks,” Gracy continues.
According to Dan Donohoe, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Morin remains in King County Jail on $60,000 bail. Donohoe says his office will argue against releasing Morin at his July 24 arraignment, and if convicted as charged Morin faces 43 to 57 months in prison.