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Michigan Man Convicted In Murder Of Poker Player Susie Zhao

Jeffery Morris, 62, Faces Life In Prison

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A man has been convicted in the 2020 murder of 33-year-old poker pro Susie Zhao.

According to a report from The Oakland Press, a jury deliberated for less than an hour to convict Jeffery Morris, 62. Morris reportedly was homeless at the time of the murder.

Morris faces mandatory life in prison for first-degree murder, with sentencing slated for November.

Zhao was found dead in a Michigan parking lot near an outdoor recreation area in White Lake Township. Authorities were alerted to the body by a local resident.

Zhao was a longtime poker pro that made her living primarily playing live, high-stakes cash games in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but recently moved back to Michigan to be closer to family. Despite making her living in cash games, Zhao racked up $224,671 in career tournament earnings, mostly from cashes and deep runs in the World Series of Poker main event in 2012, 2015 and 2017. Her 2012 90th-place finish netted her $73,805, the largest tournament cash of her career.

Prosecutors largely relied on Morris’ cell phone to convict him.

“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.”

The defense argued that Morris couldn’t have assaulted and murdered Zhao in less than seven minutes, which is what prosecutors alleged.

 
 
Tags: Susie Zhao,   Michigan