The man who allegedly shot and killed NBA center Lorenzen Wright, 34, on behalf of the victim’s ex-wife, will finally stand trial more than 11 years after the murder. Jurors will decide the fate of Billy Ray Turner, 51, in Shelby County, Tennessee. You can watch in the player above.
The Los Angeles Clippers drafted Wright 7th overall in 1996 during that era’s basketball boom period. He ended up returning to his hometown Memphis for five seasons to play for the Grizzlies. It was in July 2010, the year after his final season, that he made a final 911 call to authorities in Germantown, Tennessee. 11 gunshots cut it short. He was found dead on July 28, 2010.
Authorities said he was last seen leaving the home of Sherra Wright, his ex-wife. Prosecutors say she is the woman behind his murder. She was originally charged with first-degree murder, but she ended up pleading down to lesser charges of facilitation to commit first-degree murder and facilitation to commit attempted first-degree murder. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Turner was a landscaper, and he served as a deacon at Sherra Wright’s church. According to an affidavit, the pair were involved in a relationship at the time of Lorenzen Wright’s death, and had been heard discussing potential plots to kill the basketball player.
According to prosecutor Paul Hagerman, a man named Jimmie Martin admitted that he played a role in the murder. He helped Sherra Wright and Turner plan Lorenzen Wright’s murder, and Sherra Wright paid him for this.
In this version of events, Sherra Wright picked him up in the days after the murder, picked up Turner, and Martin helped them clean up the crime scene and destroy evidence. Sherra Wright borrowed a metal detector from Martin’s mother in order to find the murder weapon, which Turner dropped. Martin accompanied Turner to the lake, where Turner threw away the gun.
Authorities said that Martin led authorities to that lake near Walnut, Mississippi on Nov. 9, 2017. Prosecutors have identified him as the unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
He actually was out on bond during the Wright killing. Jurors had acquitted him in 2009 for murdering his girlfriend Martha Jean Bownes, but could not reach a decision on second-degree murder, according to The Commercial Appeal. He was finally convicted on that lesser charge in 2012 and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Turner attorney John Keith Perry signaled that Martin lacked credibility.
“He’s a convicted murderer that was caught in, I think, 40 different lies in his trial,” he reportedly said.
[Booking photo via Shelby County Jail]
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