Competency Hearing Ordered for Defendant in Susie Zhao Murder Case

1 month ago
Competency Hearing Ordered for Defendant in Susie Zhao Murder Case
23 Aug

Jeffery Bernard Morris, the previously-convicted sex offender arrested for the July murder of pro poker player Susie Zhao, has been ordered to undergo a competency evaluation following a show-cause hearing in the case.

Michigan Circuit Court Judge Kelley R. Kostin, who is presiding over the case, ordered the 60-year-old Morris to be examined on Monday, September 14, 2020, at 10:00 AM. Such a mental-competency evaluation was a near certainty in the matter, given the extreme nature of the alleged murderer’s actions.

Morris, an officially homeless transient with a long, troubled past in both Michigan and Florida, has been judged a flight risk and continues to be held without bond in an Oakland County (Michigan) jail. To date, authorities have charged Morris with a single felony count of first-degree, premeditated murder. Morris already faces life in prison if convicted on that charge, while additional charges could be added at a later date.

One twist in the case’s early developments involved the show-cause hearing having been quietly moved forward from Tuesday, August 18 (as originally scheduled) to Friday, August 14. The shift, intentional or not, was not disclosed in advance in Michigan’s online court system and likely kept local media from hearing additional details regarding Zhao’s torture and murder in the early morning hours of July 13. The case has drawn widespread attention from Detroit-area news outlets, and further dissemination of many of the case’s morbid facts may make it harder to find unbiased jurors, should the case proceed to a full courtroom trial.

Morris was arrested on July 31 after investigators linked him to the charred body of the 33-year-old Zhao, widely known as “Susie Q” on the West Coast poker scene. Morris is being represented by a court-appointed attorney.

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Veteran poker and gambling writer/editor Haley Hintze has provided content throughout the gambling world for nearly 20 years. Widely known for her work on online poker's insider-cheating scandals in the late 2000s, she's been a two-time Global Poker Awards finalist and a prior finalist for Women in ...Read more


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