- »Accused Murderer of Susie Zhao Has Felony Charge Added
Accused Murderer of Susie Zhao Has Felony Charge Added
Jeffery Morris stands accused of murdering poker player Susie Zhao. Police arrested Morris in August 2020 and charged him with first-degree murder. Morris now faces the charge of felony murder after an update in the case this week.
Police charged 60-year-old Morris with first-degree premeditated murder of 33-year-old Zhao. Police in White Lake, Michigan arrested Morris less than a month after the gruesome discovery of Zhao’s remains on July 13, 2020. Michigan does not have the death penalty, meaning Morris faces the prospect of life imprisonment without the chance of parole.
Judge Martha Anderson of Oakland County Circuit Court sent the case back to the district court so the felony murder charge can be added. Prosecutors are throwing as many charged at Morris in the hope at least one sticks.
The Gruesome Murder of Susie Zhao
A Michigan citizen found the badly burned remains of Zhao on July 13, 2020. Police arrived at the DNR parking area at Maceday Lake and Cross Road where they found the burned remains of a deceased female. Police identified Zhao as the victim.
Zhao and Morris met the night before the murder at a motel where Zhao had previously frequented. It is currently unknown if the pair were in any form of relationship.
Morris claimed he spent time with Zhao at Sherwood Motel, spending the evening drinking. Zhao took her belongings and cell phone with here around midnight, Morris said. Cell phone records, however, indicate Zhao didn’t leave the motel until 05:00. Surveillance footage shows Morris leaving the motel at 05:00 and drove to the state park where the remains of Zhao were found.
Law enforcement officers discovered potential evidence in Morris’ vehicle. Duffle bags holding a bloodied bedsheet and a baseball bat were among the discoveries.
An autopsy revealed Zhao came to a horrifying demise. She was bound, beaten, sexually assaulted, and burned alive.
Morris is on probation for retail fraud currently and has an extensive criminal record. Multiple domestic violence charges litter his criminal history and he’s a registered sex offender.
The trial is preliminary set for March 2020.
Zhao The Poker Player
Zhao was a superb poker player who specialized in cash games. She was originally from Michigan but moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on her poker career. Anyone who frequented the Commerce Casino or The Bicycle Hotel and Casino will have bumped into Zhao at some point.
She made occasional appearances on the “Live at the Bike” live-streamed cash games.
It wasn’t only in cash games where the late star shone because she enjoyed tournament success too. She died after accumulating $222,671 in live tournament winnings.
Zhao’s biggest live cash weighed in at $73,805. This was her reward for a 90th place finish in the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Her last tournament cash came in September 2017 in a $1,100 Main Event at the Commerce Poker Series. Zhao banked $2,000 for an 81st place finish.
Friends Speak Of Shock at Her Murder
Friends told reporters Zhao kept a lid on her private life. She only recently moved back to Michigan to be near family while she dealt with some personal issues and the fact she could no longer afford to live in Los Angeles.
Fellow professional poker player and friend, Bart Hanson, called his friend an excellent poker player.
“She really was an excellent player. One of the best in LA at the level we played at the Commerce Casino and it’s the biggest poker room in the world. I never would have though anyone would’ve wanted to do anything to her. She had such a great attitude and so much spirit. It’s just awful.”
Police do not believe her gambling played a role in her murder.