On Monday, a Tennessee jury found a man guilty in the death of former NBA star Lorenzen Wright, whose bullet-riddled body was discovered in a field in his hometown of Memphis over 12 years ago.
Billy Ray Turner, a 6-foot-11-inch center who played 13 seasons in the NBA before retiring following the 2008-2009 season, was found guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy by a 12-person jury after nearly two hours of deliberation. Turner, 51, was sentenced to life in prison by Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee for the murder conviction. The other charges will be dealt with at a later date.
Coffee referred to Wright as a holy son of Memphis and urged his mother, Deborah Marion, that while the trial may not provide her closure, she should focus on the positive aspects of her son.
The assassination has become one of Memphis’ most well-known murder cases. On July 28, 2010, Wright’s decomposing body was discovered in a swampy field near east Memphis, riddled with bullet wounds. Before his body was recovered, the 34-year-old father of six had been missing for days.
Turner had already pled guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon after being found with two guns when he was arrested in the 2017 murder of Wright. Turner is currently serving a 16-year sentence for a separate gun charge.
Prosecutors say Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, plotted the murder of her ex-husband and enlisted the cooperation of Turner and her cousin, Jimmie Martin.
More than seven years after the homicide, Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted in December 2017. Sherra Wright pleaded guilty to facilitation of murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2019.
Turner is a landscaper who knew Sherra Wright from church and had a covert love involvement with her, according to prosecutors.
Martin was facing allegations of killing his girlfriend at the time of Wright’s murder, and he stated his cousin helped pay some of his legal bills. Martin was found guilty in that case and is currently serving time in jail. In the Wright case, he has been granted immunity from prosecution.