Jeffery Bernard Morris was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Thursday in an Oakland County, Michigan courtroom. Morris received a formal sentence from Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson, who presided over Morris’s trial last month.
Jeffery Bernard Morris was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday in an Oakland County, Michigan courtroom for the murder of poker pro Susie Zhao.
The formal sentence was given to Morris by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson, who presided over his trial last month. Under Michigan law, Morris’s sentence was mandated after he was convicted of two murder charges, first-degree premeditated murder and felony murder, in connection with Zhao’s murder.
On the morning of July 13, 2020, Zhao’s burned remains were discovered in the parking lot of a forest preserve just west of Pontiac, Michigan. The forensic examination determined that Zhao had been brutally sexually abused, bound, and doused with gasoline before he was set on fire. Morris was arrested later that month by Oakland County officers after he was linked to the 33-year-old Zhao.
Morris is going to appeal the verdict
Morris only spoke to the court for a short time. He stated that he was not going to say anything this time. There are a lot of things I would like to say. I am not going to say anything this time. I will wait until I return for an appeal and begin again. The jury reached a guilty verdict in less than one hour after Morris did not testify on his own behalf.
Evidence presented in the trial showed that Morris acted out a violent sexual fantasy involving Asian women, bondage, torture and a forest setting in order to kill Zhao. Thousands of images, search results and web pages were recovered from Morris’s phone by investigators from state and federal agencies. The investigators were able to link Morris to the killing because of the tracking data associated with both Morris’s and Zhao’s phones.