Tennessee man found guilty in killing of former NBA star Lorenzen Wright

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A jury on Monday convicted a Tennessee man in the killing of former NBA star Lorenzen Wright more than a decade ago.

After deliberating for less than three hours, the 12-person jury found Billy Ray Turner guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in the death of Wright, whose body was found riddled with bullets in a field in Memphis back in 2010.

Turner, 51, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder conviction by Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee. The attempted first-degree murder charge stemmed from a separate plot to kill Wright at his Atlanta home before the shooting. Turner will be sentenced to the other charges at a future date.

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Lorenzen Wright is interviewed after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers on June 26, 1996 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Lorenzen Wright is interviewed after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers on June 26, 1996 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wright, the 7th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, played 13 seasons in the NBA, including five with the Memphis Grizzlies. The judge called the 6-foot, 11-inch center “a sacred son” of Memphis.

Coffee told Wright’s mother Deborah Marion that she should “celebrate what is good” about her son, despite the possibility that the trial might not bring her closure.

“It won’t be closure, because it’ll never bring me closure again,” Marion stated. “This is just a small amount of satisfaction for me and my loved ones. “

Cleveland Cavaliers' Lorenzen Wright poses at the team's NBA basketball media day in Independence, Ohio on Sept. 29, 2008.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Lorenzen Wright poses at the team’s NBA basketball media day in Independence, Ohio on Sept. 29, 2008.
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

Wright, a father of six, had been missing for days before his body was discovered riddled with bullet wounds in a swampy field in Memphis on July 28, 2010.

Prosecutors allege that Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, recruited Turner and her cousin, Jimmie Martin, to help kill her ex-husband. Martin was accused of helping to clean up evidence after Wright’s death.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a time-lapse occurred between the killing and when Wright’s body was found by authorities, which caused investigators to lose key evidence that would have made for a quicker investigation. The case remained cold for many years before investigators were able to find reason to reevaluate Sherra Wright’s role. In December 2017, Both Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted — more than seven years after the killing.

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Turner was found with two guns when he was arrested in Wright’s killing in 2017. He pleaded guilty to possessing a weapon as a convicted felon and is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence on the gun charge.

Sherra Wright entered a guilty plea to the facilitation of murder in July 2019 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Martin, who is currently serving time for the murder of his girlfriend back in 2008, was granted immunity from prosecution in the Wright case. Martin testified that Sherra Wright recruited Martin and Turner to murder Lorenzen Wright.

Defense attorney John Keith Perry pointed to inconsistencies in Martin’s statements, and argued that the information Martin provided to investigators was full lies. Paul Hagerman, the prosecutor, stated that Martin’s immunity agreement required him tell the truth and that Martin’s statements were consistent.

Deborah Marion, mother of former NBA basketball player Lorenzen Wright, speaks with reporters, Monday, March 21, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn., after a jury convicted a Tennessee man in the slaying of her son, whose bullet-riddled body was found in a field nearly 12 years ago.

Deborah Marion, mother of former NBA basketball player Lorenzen Wright, speaks with reporters, Monday, March 21, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn., after a jury convicted a Tennessee man in the slaying of her son, whose bullet-riddled body was found in a field nearly 12 years ago.
(AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

Lorenzen Wright started 447 games during his lengthy NBA career. He averaged eight points and 6.4 rebounds per game and retired after the 2008-2009 season. Deborah Marion stated that she would visit her son’s grave Monday evening after the verdict.

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“Maybe now, I can sleep through the night,” she said, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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