A homeless man sexually assaulted a professional poker player and then killed her by setting her on fire. It took a jury less than an hour to deem him a murderer.
This month, a jury in Michigan convicted Jeffrey Morris for killing Susie Zhao in 2020, according to WJBK. He was a convicted sex offender, and now is a convicted first-degree murderer.
Morris is set to be sentenced next month and faces mandatory life in prison, according to WJBK.
Zhao was a professional poker player who lived in California but grew up in Waterford Township, Michigan, according to the report.
Her body was found in a parking lot by two men passing through the area, according to WJBK. She had been bound with zip ties, sexually assaulted and set on fire — all before she died.
Medical experts said she had her hair burned off, her tongue burned and soot in her airway, the TV station reported. That meant she was alive when she was set on fire.
The suspect and victim had stayed in the same hotel room but not at the same time, the TV station noted.
According to the Oakland Press, investigators used cell phone data to tie Morris to the horrific crime. He had also searched for sexual violence on his phone.
Prosecutor John Skrzynski told the jury in his closing argument that sex to Morris is violent and inflicting pain, according to the Oakland Press.
“He’s a killer and a liar, a liar and a murderer, a liar and a pervert,” Skrzynski said, according to the Oakland Press.
A gas station owner also testified that Morris bought gasoline not long before Zhao was murdered, according to the Oakland Press. There was also video evidence that showed Morris might have stolen zip ties shortly before the murder.
The defense tried to question the creditability of some of the witnesses and pointed out there was nobody saw the crime. Attorneys also questioned the prosecution’s theory that the rape and murder happened in a seven-minute span.
The jury didn’t buy it and convicted Morris after about an hour of deliberations.