The Oakland County Court has rescheduled Susie Zhao’s murder trial again. Originally due to be held on March 18, 2021, the court has now moved the trial to September. Jury selection — the next phase of the trial — will begin on September 7.
The jury will decide if Jeffery Morris is guilty of felony murder. He stands accused of killing Susie “Susie Q” Zhao while sexually assaulting her.
Passers-by found Zhao’s body in a Detroit park on June 13, 2020. Subsequent forensic analysis showed that her killer had burned her over 90% of the surface of her body. Soot in her lungs showed that they had set her alight while she was still breathing. Injuries to her genitals suggested sexual assault with a blunt object.
The police ran Jeffery Morris to ground on July 3, the day before Zhao’s funeral. They charged Morris with the first degree murder of Susie Q. When further evidence came in, the prosecution changed the charge to felony murder — murder during the commission of another felony, in this case: sexual assault.
Morris waived his right to an arraignment and pled not-guilty. Oakland County Court Judge Martha Anderson will preside over the trial.
Hurry up and wait
The wheels of justice seem to be moving painfully slowly, in the eyes of many in the poker community. Let’s look at the timeline:
Zhao, a poker player and a member of the poker media is killed. The hand is dealt. Then delay after delay keeps putting off the showdown. That’s when we will finally learn if the jurors’ cards say guilty or not-guilty. We’ll wait to see if Morris can fold his cards and walk away from the table, or if he’s all in holding A-8 — the dead man’s hand. Zhao’s family wait to see if they get closure or not.
To someone without legal training, the evidence against Morris appears strong. Forensics found his DNA in cervical swabs taken from Susie Zhao. He had a blood-stained baseball bat in his car. Cell tower tracking of his movements puts him at the scene of the crimes, at the time of the crimes. A witness has him shoplifting zip-ties and accelerant the night of the murder. He has a history of sexual violence.
But the court has far more information than we do. Dozens of witnesses spoke at the pre-trial hearings, and the prosecution has a few months yet to collect more data for their arguments. By the time the lawyers pick a jury, Zhao will have been dead and gone for almost 15 months. All the poker world can do is watch and wait, hoping that the cops got the right guy, and that the jury places its bets on the right line.
Featured image source: Twitter