Following several delays caused by the pandemic and other factors, Jeffery Bernard Morris has been convicted in the 2020 murder of the 33-year-old professional poker player, Susie Zhao.
According to reports, a Michigan jury took less than one hour on 7th October (Friday) to find Morris guilty of murdering Zhao. The 62-year-old Morris was homeless at the time of the horrifying murder.
Morris faces mandatory life imprisonment for the first-degree murder and felony murder case in Oakland County Circuit Court for killing Zhao by setting her on fire after a brutal sexual assault.
According to reports, Zhao was had been bound with zip-ties, sexually assaulted and burned before she died. Her body was found in a parking lot in White Lake in July by two men passing by the area.
The guilty verdict seems to have relieved those in the poker community who had patiently awaited the justice for over two and half years after several delays caused by the Covid-19 and other factors.
Reacting to the swift verdict, popular poker writer Jennifer Newell shared the following tweet.
Nothing will bring Susie Zhao back to life. Nothing will erase the horror she experienced or that which her family and friends will live with forever. But perhaps the swift guilty verdict will provide a little sense of justice. #JusticeForSusieQ ❤️— Jennifer Newell (@WriterJen) October 7, 2022
A poker pro from Waterford Township, Zhao had been living in California. She made her living by playing live poker in Las Vegas and Los Angeles but moved back to Michigan to be closer to family.
Primarily a cash game player, she racked up $224,671 in career tournament earnings. A regular player and commentator on the Live at the Bike stream at LA’s Bicycle Casino, she won many hearts in the poker community with her bubbly personality and multiple deep runs in the WSOP Main Event 2012, 2015 and 2017. Her 90th -place finish fetched her $73,805, her career-best tournament cash.
Prosecutors largely relied on Morris’ cell phone to find him guilty of killing Zhao
“Evidence on Morris cell phone showed multiple internet searches for violent sex and thousands of saved images involving brutality against Asian women and slaves, bondage, and more, as well as sexual encounters in remote, wooded areas — similar to where Zhao’s body was found,” the report said. “There was evidence her wrists were bound by zip ties prior to her being doused with gasoline and set afire while alive, and she had sustained serious damage to her genital area caused by blunt force that Morris inflicted on her.”
“Investigators linked Morris to the slaying largely through cell phone evidence which included not only the vast number of internet searches for sexual violence that Zhao ultimately suffered but also cell phone tracking that showed their phones — and presumably Morris and Zhao — were together in the hours leading up to her death. Investigators tracked the phones from Zhao’s parents’ home to the Sherwood Motel in Waterford where Morris had rented a room for $50, and then to the parking lot where Zhao’s body had been left.”
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