The harrowing final moments of poker player Susie Zhao’s life were revealed during graphic testimony inside a Michigan courtroom on Wednesday.
The Oakland County court heard charges brought against 60-year-old convicted sex offender Jeffery Morris in the death of Zhao, whose body was found “extremely” burnt by two men in a parking lot in July.
One of the men, Ronald Granville, told the court that Zhao’s body had been so disfigured, he wasn’t sure if it was real.
“It was hard to tell if it was a Halloween prank or mannequin that was burned,” Granville testified.
Medical examiner Dr. Andrew Hanosh said he found extensive damage to Zhao’s genitalia and estimated that “at least 90% of the body’s surface area” was burned. He told the court that he found soot in Zhao’s airway, leading him to assess that she had been burned alive.
The details emerged during preliminary hearings in a murder case against Morris. Investigators say they found phone records linking Morris to the site where Zhao’s body was dumped. Prosecutors also revealed that Morris stayed in the same room as Zhao at the Sherwood Motel, although not at overlapping times.
Zhao won more than $180,000 at World Series of Poker events throughout her professional poker career.
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