Pre-Trial Hearing Set for February in Susie Zhao Case
The US justice system is rarely swift. Often, it takes years upon years for a criminal case to see an actual courtroom, with more years tacked on for appeals. This must be an onerous burden for a victim’s family and friends. So must be the case for those suffering from the loss of Susie Zhao.
There is one person facing multiple charges in the horrific murder of Susie Zhao. He has yet to stand trial, but it appears that 2022 will be the year. The trial is now set to begin in March.
Long Time, No Update
Susie Zhao, known to many friends in the poker community as Susie Q, was 33 years old when someone brutally cut her life short. It happened in the early morning hours of July 13, 2020. Jeffery Bernard Morris is charged with her murder.
We’ve been following the case very closely ever since. Even so, our last update was in April of last year.
For reference or those new to the story, here is a brief timeline:
–The poker community mourned the loss of a beloved player, while details remained scarce.
–Authorities released the identity of the suspect and more details about Zhao’s murder, which was committed in the early morning hours of July 13, 2020.
–Judge binds Morris case over for trial after probable cause hearing in September.
–October hearing sets trial to begin March 22, 2021.
–Prosecutors proved the viability of a second murder charge against Morris in a March 8 hearing, which delays the trial start.
Our last article about the case noted that there was a final pretrial hearing set for August 2021 and trial date of September 7, 2021. Obviously, that did not happen. There were date changes and attorney changes in the last eight months, along with more Covid-related delays.
In August, a change in counsel prompted Judge Martha Anderson to push the trial date from September to January 3, 2022. Then, in December, the court announced that Morris had a new attorney. The Oakland County Indigent Defense Services Office appointed Michael McCarthy to represent Morris, replacing Pamela Johnson.
Next up, there was a paperwork problem. The initial charge against Morris was “homicide – murder first degree – premeditated.” However, after a hearing early in 2021, Judge Kelly Kostin allowed the addition of “homicide – felony murder” to be added as another charge. That was when Kostin bound the case over to the Circuit Court. However, the clerk did not add that second count before the case was bound over. So, on January 11, 2022, the initial court revised the bindover document and sent it to the Circuit Court.
As it appears in the latest court documents, the pretrial hearing for Jeffery Morris will take place on February 17, 2022. The trial will most likely begin in March.
The delay is due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Michigan. Per the state, the Oakland County Health Department postponed all jury trials until Monday, February 28, 2022. Jury selection for cases may begin on that date, pandemic-permitting. It appears that one of the cases to start jury selection in early March is the Morris case.
When we are able to obtain more concrete information from the Judge Anderson’s office, we will provide it. Until then, Morris remains in jail awaiting trial. And the family and friends of Susie Zhao continue awaiting what will likely be a very difficult trial with the hope of eventual justice.