Susie Zhao murder: Jeffrey Morris, 62, gets life in prison for raping and burning poker star alive
OAKLAND, MICHIGAN: A convicted sex offender who brutally raped a professional poker player and burned her alive in 2020, has been sentenced to life in prison. Jeffery Bernard Morris, 62, was convicted last month at the trial of the first-degree murder of Susie Q Zhao.
Charges also included felony murder in the commission of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, reported The Oakland Press. On Thursday, November 10, Morris was handed the life term without the possibility of parole. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before reaching a verdict and finding the defendant guilty. When asked if he wanted to say something, Morris said, “This time I’m not gonna say anything. I’ll wait till I come back for an appeal and begin again.” Judge Martha Anderson described the case as “one of the most agonizing trials” of her career.
Who is Jeffrey Bernard Morris?
Morris, a convicted sex offender and a homeless man, who was arrested in connection with the murder of Susie Zhao, 33. Zhao was an Oakland County professional poker player whose charred body was discovered in a remote Michigan parking lot on July 13. Prosecutors said Morris met Zhao at a Waterford Township motel where she often stayed and proceeded to carry out what has been described as a depraved sexual fantasy involving bondage, reported New York Post. According to evidence, the victim was brutally raped, causing damage to her genitals. She was restrained with zip ties, doused with gasoline, and set ablaze while she was still alive.
It is reported that Zhao's body was so severely burned that when two men discovered her body they initially thought it was a Halloween prank or a scorched mannequin. On August 4, 2020, police tied him to the location where Zhao's body was found through phone records. Judge Anderson described the case as “one of the most agonizing trials” of her career. “I cannot get over the brutality of this murder and the needlessness of it all,” she said.
Morris was first convicted in 1989 of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree by force and coercion and landed on the Michigan sex offender registry. He has also been convicted of charges including domestic violence, assault with intent to rob while armed, and failure to comply with sex offender reporting duties, according to Law and Crime.