The trial of the man accused of killing poker pro Susie “Susie Q” Zhao has begun in Michigan. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The trial of the man who allegedly murdered poker pro Susie “Susie Q” Zhao has begun in Michigan. Jeffrey Morris, 62, a sex offender accused of felony homicide and first-degree premeditated murder charges. There have been numerous delays for the start of the trial, which began on Monday, as a result of the pandemic and various legal issues.
Covered with gasoline and set on fire while he is alive
According to prosecutors, Chow, who they said was dealing with schizophrenia at the time, was sexually assaulted before being covered in gasoline and set on fire while she was alive. The body of the 30-year-old was found by two men in the parking lot of the Pontiac Lake recreation area in Oakland County in July 2020. Most of her body was badly burned and her wrists were tied with a zipper.
The motive behind the murder
It took authorities ten days to arrest Maurice after Zhao’s discovery. Court documents identified some of the details that led to the arrest. An FBI task force worked with White Lake Police on the case.
At the time of his arrest, Morris was driving on a highway about 30 miles from the crime scene. Police described Morris, who was convicted of rape in 1989, as a transient homeless.
Zhao was originally from China, but moved to Michigan when she was young. After attending high school in Michigan, she went to Northwestern University to study Psychology.
Prosecutors believe Morris was looking for “pornographic fantasies to come true.” trial It is expected to last about a week and prosecutors have 17 potential witnesses to call. Witness testimony began Tuesday morning. The defense did not identify any witnesses.
The evidence in the case
Prosecutors plan to provide cell phone evidence during the trial to show that Chow and Morris were with each other on the day of the murders. Both phones show that they were close to the scene of the killing at the time the killing took place. There is also surveillance footage of Morris allegedly stealing Vaseline and ties from a nearby store. Finally, prosecutors have permission to provide evidence of the defendant’s Internet searches and web history for the period surrounding the murder.
Originally from Michigan, Chow had returned to her home state shortly before her death. She has been playing high stakes poker in California for nearly a decade. Most of her focus was on cash games, but she still earned $224,671 in tournament earnings throughout her career.
It appears Morris’ defense team will argue that the evidence is mostly circumstantial and that their client expects his “day of acquittal.” Morris has spent most of the time since his arrest awaiting trial in the county jail.