Billy Ray Turner Guilty of Notorious Memphis Murder

Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was shot to death in 2010
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2022 2:29 PM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2022 4:40 PM CDT
Trial Begins in 2010 Slaying of Basketball Star
This 2008 shows Lorenzen Wright, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers.   (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

(Newser) Update: A jury on Monday convicted a Tennessee man in the slaying of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, whose bullet-riddled body was found in a field nearly 12 years ago in his hometown of Memphis. The 12-person jury deliberated for about two hours before it found Billy Ray Turner guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy in the death of Wright, the AP reports. Turner, 51, is already serving a 16-year prison sentence on a separate gun charge and could now face a life sentence. Our story from March 14 follows:

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a man charged with killing former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, whose body was found in a swampy field nearly 12 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Billy Ray Turner has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy, and could face life in prison if convicted, per the AP. Opening statements in Turner's trial could finally reveal key details about Wright’s slaying, one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Memphis history. His decomposing body was found riddled with bullet wounds in east Memphis on July 28, 2010. Wright, 34, had been missing for 10 days before his body was discovered.

A Memphis native, the 6-foot, 11-inch Wright played 13 seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies and four other NBA teams, after playing college basketball at the University of Memphis. He was retired from the league when he was killed. Turner and Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, were charged in December 2017 in the killing. She entered a surprise guilty plea to facilitation of murder in July 2019 and Judge Lee Coffee sentenced her to 30 years in prison. Witnesses said Sherra Wright masterminded a plan to have two men kill her ex-husband at his home in Atlanta, but that attempt failed, according to an affidavit.

She and Turner then conspired to kill him in Memphis, authorities have said. Turner, a landscaper in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, and Sherra Wright attended the same church. She later received $1 million from her ex-husband’s life insurance policy, and settled a court dispute in 2014 over how she spent the insurance money meant to benefit their six children. Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said the trial was expected to take a week to 10 days. "I imagine it will be a long, hard trial,” he said.

(Read more Lorenzen Wright stories.)

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