Susie Zhao may not have been Jeffrey Morris’s first or only murder, according to new charges brought against him this week.
The Zhao murder case had additional pre-trial oral arguments last week at the Oakland County Circuit Court. During the arguments, the prosecution brought a second felony murder charge against the prime suspect. This information came from Morris’s defense attorney, Pamela Irene Johnson, who spoke to the press after the hearing.
The public record does not yet show who this second victim might be, or if they are connected to Zhao’s murder.
Johnson was able to convince the judge that the case should be sent back to the 52-2 District Court for updates. The district court will hear out the new evidence and decide whether the case should proceed with the additional charges.
As a result, the original trial date in mid-March has been scrubbed and a new date will be set by the district court, once the new evidence is heard.
A troubling past
Morris is currently on trial for the murder of Zhao, better known in the poker community as “Susie Q.”
However, this is far from his first run-in with the law. His past convictions run the gamut from sex crimes to drug possession. Morris was homeless and was staying in the Sherwood Motel at the time of the murders. He had recently been lodging with a family member who threw him out after he allegedly became violent with one of his hosts.
It appears that Zhao knew Morris. Their cell phone records show mutual contact, and she visited the Sherwood Motel. But it still isn’t clear yet exactly what their connection was.
One of ours
Zhao’s murder rocked the poker world, in part for how close to home it struck. Zhao was a popular commentator on Live at the Bike! and a pro player in her own right. But the murder also garnered notice for its breathtaking brutality.
Her body was found in a park in July of last year. She had been burned beyond recognition. Evidence showed she had been alive when she was set alight. There were also signs that the perpetrator had assaulted Zhao sexually. These signs included blunt force trauma to the genitals.
Zhao had returned home after COVID made it difficult to make a living as a live poker grinder and live event commentator.
The return to the district court is a necessary part of keeping Lady Justice’s scales properly balanced. Unfortunately, it further drags out the poker community’s wait for closure after the death of one of our own.
Featured image source: Flickr