The wheels of justice turn slowly, but for murdered poker pro Susie Zhao they have almost arrived at the trial of the man accused of taking her life in the most brutal fashion, Jeffrey B. Morris.
With official pre-trial proceedings underway, the full murder trial is scheduled to begin next Monday, October 2nd in the Oakland County courthouse in Michigan. Morris faces charges of felony murder and first-degree premeditated murder for the death of Susie Zhao in July 2020.
The news that Susie “Susie Q” Zhao had been killed shocked the poker world when it was revealed that the charred remains of a body found in a parking lot at the Pontiac Lake State Recreation Park on July 13th belonged to the popular LA-based pro.
Due to the pandemic, Susie had moved back to live with her mother and stepfather in Michigan, and police were initially interested in Susie’s poker links as a possible reason for her brutal torture and murder.
The Arrest and Investigation
That investigation was set aside when Jeffrey B. Morris was arrested on August 1st, the day of Susie’s funeral.
Morris, then 60-years-old – a convicted sex offender and domestic abuser – was quickly linked to Susie’s death by phone records and surveillance video, which put him not only in the motel room where Susie was staying, but also the location where her body was discovered.
A felony murder charge was added to the original charge of premeditated, first-degree murder, highlighting the horrific nature of the crime, with Susie kidnapped, tortured, sexually assaulted, and set on fire while still alive.
Delays and deliberations
This additional charge, however, led to multiple delays in the trial coming to court, as a clerical blunder added to ongoing Covid-19 issues and a change of defence counsel.
Morris, meanwhile, has been remanded in custody since his August 2020 arrest, the charges – and his previous for sexual assault – combining to deny him bail.
This week’s pre-trial proceedings have seen jury selection taking place, with reports that film crews have “requested permission to be present during the trial.”
The prosecution is requesting life without parole for each charge against Morris.
PokerTube will bring you coverage of Morris’ trial, although it may prove distressing to many, but we’d also like to present you some of the highlights of Susie Zhao’s life and poker career
Susie “Susie Q” Zhao Remembered
Born in Beijing, China, Susie moved to the US as a child, attending middle school in Troy, Michigan and then Cranbrook-Kingswood school in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She would later graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois in 2010.
In her obituary, her mother, Fang Dai, recalls her “inborn talents of super memory, mathematics potential and uncommonly sensitivity” as leading her to poker, Susie eventually moving to California and playing poker professional in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Although not a household name, Susie sported various poker sponsorships over the years and picked up more than $220,000 in live tournament cashes, including a 90th spot, $73k cash at the 2015 WSOP.
Susie was also a regular in cash games around LA and appeared several times on the YouTube show “Live at the Bike”, streamed from the Bicycle Casino.
Among the many glowing tributes from her friends and colleagues in the poker community, Brandon Shack-Harris tweeted:
“Thankful for all of the happy memories Susie <3 <3.”
Poker hostess, reporter, and professional massage therapist Drea Renee offered:
“So sad to hear of the tragic passing of Susie Q Zhao. She always so sweet and kind to me and always smiling! You will be missed Susie!”
Did you like this article?