Sex Offender Who Burned Poker Pro Susie Zhao Alive Gets Life in Prison

  • Judge Anderson sentenced Jeffery Morris to life in prison with no possibility of parole
  • Morris sexually assaulted and tortured Zhao before he set her on fire while she was still alive
  • Just before her death, doctors had diagnosed Zhao as suffering from schizophrenia
  • Poker star Brad Booth went missing the same day authorities found Zhao’s corpse
Man in handcuffs
Justice for a poker pro brutally killed over two years ago has finally arrived after a Michigan judge sentenced Jeffery Morris to life in prison for the murder of Susie Zhao. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A shocking crime

Amid the worst of the pandemic’s early days in summer 2020, the murder of thirty-year-old Susie “Susie Q” Zhao stunned the poker community of which she was a part. Her tragic story reached a conclusion in Michigan on Thursday when Judge Martha Anderson sentenced her murderer to life in prison.

no possibility of parole

Poker journalist Jennifer Newell took to Twitter to share news of prior-convicted sex offender Jeffery Morris’ sentence, which includes no possibility of parole:

A police investigation into the murder revealed that Morris, 62, sexually assaulted and tortured Zhao before setting her on fire while she was still alive.

Thursday’s sentencing in Oakland County Circuit Court comes a month after a jury found Morris, 62, guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree [criminal sexual conduct] felony murder. Judge Anderson said shecan’t get over the brutality of this murder, and the needlessness of it all.”

Punished for life

Authorities found Zhao’s charred, zip-tied corpse on July 13, 2020 in a roadside parking lot in Michigan’s Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area. White Lake Township police in Michigan arrested Morris on suspicion of homicide on August 3, 2020.

Chief of Litigation for the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, John Skrzynski, told the court Thursday that the murderer is about to face “the worst punishment that he can have.” He explained that Morris is “going to have to live with people who are exactly like him […] for the rest of his life.”

During the week-long trial that began on October 3, it emerged Morris met up with Zhao at Sherwood Motel in Waterford Township before tying her up and driving her to a state recreation area. There, according to prosecutors, he “used Zhao to make his violent fantasies come true.”

Just before her death, doctors had diagnosed Zhao as suffering from schizophrenia. Judge Anderson highlighted this during sentencing, saying Morris: “took advantage of an individual who was fragile and

basically destroyed everything that she had accomplished in her life.”

A different outcome

The disappearance of ex-high stakes poker star Brad Booth on the same day Michigan authorities found Zhao’s body also caught the poker world’s attention at the time. Daniel Negreanu, Adam Schwartz, and Terrence Chan discussed both cases in an August edition of the DAT Poker Podcast.

Booth resurfaced two months later, much to the relief of a poker community rocked by the loss of Susie Q, and to Booth’s family, who reported Brad had been “taking some time to himself” but was alive and well.