A homeless man will stand trial accused of the felony murder of professional poker star Susie Zhao.
Jefferey Morris is awaiting a court date after it was confirmed he has been charged with the offence, which is murder in the act of another crime – in this case, Morris is accused of sexually assaulting Zhao and then burning her alive following a gruesome autopsy report.
The episode is said to have taken place in the White Lake Township of Oakland County, Michigan, where the pair are thought to have met at a motel. It’s not clear as to why they met, although police investigators revealed they were keeping an open mind on the nature of their relationship.
to reports, Morris left the motel at 5am and spent seven minutes in a park – later, items including blood-stained bedsheets and a baseball bat were found there.
The attack was reported last July, when passers by found Zhao’s remains some 18 days after the incident was thought to have taken place. A local man, Ronald Grinwald, discovered the body and told detectives that he wasn’t initially sure if it was a ‘store mannequin or a Halloween prank’.
Morris, a transient with previous convictions for rape and fraud, was arrested after a series of eyewitness reports were made, and he has been held in jail ever since awaiting a court date.
Jury selection is set to commence in September 2021, with the trial to begin thereafter.
Tragic End for Rising Star
Susie Zhao, 33, was a poker professional who made more than $220,000 in prize money during her career, including a couple of deep runs into the World Series of Poker’s Main Event.
Her biggest payday came in the No Limit Hold’em event at the 2012 WSOP, where after finishing 90th Zhao, who played under the alias Susie Q, banked $73,805.
Born in Beijing but raised in Michigan, the 33-year-old made her professional debut in 2009 at a WSOP Circuit event in Hammond, Louisiana, where her seventh-place finish earned a cheque for $8,018 – that enabled her to buy-in to a WSOP Championship Event just 48 hours later. Her 15th place finish saw the Chinese ace earn a further $19,851 to cap a fantastic weekend.
Zhao only played in a handful of events for a couple of years but returned with a vengeance in 2012, with a 15th place finish in a WSOP Omaha game earning five dollars shy of $12k.
Three days later came that career-defining performance in the 43rd World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and that was as good as it would get for a young player with a bright career ahead of her.
Sadly, it has been reported that Zhao was suffering with a number of personal issues at the time of her death, and hadn’t featured in a significant poker tournament since 2017. She returned home to Michigan to live with her parents, where friends reported that she was seeking help with her demons.
Tragically, any chance of that was cruelly taken away from here.