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Billy Ray Turner Trial Updates

Jury convicts Billy Ray Turner in slaying of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright

Updated: Mar 21, 2022 / 08:49 PM CDT


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Billy Ray Turner has been found guilty on all charges, including first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Turner will receive life in prison for first-degree murder, which is 60 years in the state of Tennessee. He could be released after serving 85% of the sentence, or 51 years. The judge said sentencing for the other two counts will happen within 45 days.


After the verdict, Lorenzen Wright’s mother Deborah Marion, said, “Maybe I can sleep all night.” Watch her full reaction below.



Marion also testified in Wright’s murder case.



Wright’s high school basketball coach Fred Horton said he was glad to see a guilty verdict.

“I think (Lorenzen) deserved justice because he gave a lot to the city. He was a good kid. He was just like a son of mine. I enjoyed having the opportunity to coach him.” Horton said. “I cried like a baby when I heard that he was sat down and killed.”


During closing arguments, prosecutor Austin Scofield recalled Jimmie Martin’s testimony. Martin is the cousin of Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra. He was also the person who led police to the gun allegedly used in Wright’s murder, which was found in a Mississippi lake.


Scofield also said the people who killed Wright “are amateurs” and Turner became “visibly nervous” when he was shown the alleged gun used in Wright’s death. He also stated that Turner was present during the time in which Sherra said she wanted Wright killed and Turner responded, “What do you want me to do?”


Prosecution closing arguments.


Defense closing arguments.


Turner said he went to Atlanta to visit relatives but he could not provide the names of his relatives. His attorney, John Keith Perry said Turner never agreed to do anything for anyone and Martin admitted that Turner was not at a meeting where they were planning to sell guns.


Perry also said that the prosecution had a contract with Martin to solve Wright’s murder case. The prosecutors rebutted saying Martin’s testimony had consistency, corroboration and a contract that stated if he did not tell the truth, he could be prosecuted.


Turner is accused of being involved in the 2010 murder of NBA star Lorenzen Wright and is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Wright’s ex-wife Sherra is currently serving 30 years for facilitating Wright’s murder.

 

Closing arguments set for Monday in Billy Ray Turner's trial for murder of Lorenzen Wright


Billy Ray Turner took the stand to tell the judge he did not want to testify, and the defense rested its case after only one witness.

Updated: 3:31 PM CDT March 19, 2022


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Saturday marked day 5 of testimony in the trial of Billy Ray Turner for the murder of Memphis Grizzlies player Lorenzen Wright.


The state rested its case late Saturday morning after calling its final witness - an undercover law enforcement member who testified about surveilling Turner and Sherra Wright after authorities announced a murder weapon had been found.


After the state rested, Judge Lee Coffee said there was more than enough corroborating evidence of conspiracy, first degree murder, and attempted first degree murder, including items and bullet casings recovered at crime scene. He then denied a motion of acquittal made by the defense.


Following that ruling, Billy Ray Turner took the stand without the jury present, and told the judge he did not want to testify.


The defense called one witness - Jennifer Bogan - who testified that Turner attended a cookout at her Collierville home the evening of July 18, 2010 - roughly two hours before Lorenzen Wright made the 911 amid gunshots.




 


Day 4 of testimony in trial of Billy Ray Turner for murder of Lorenzen Wright


Updated: 5:07 PM CDT March 18, 2022


Friday, the state's key witness - Jimmie Martin - testified about cleaning up crime scene with Memphis basketball star Wright's ex-wife and the defendant.


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday marked day four of testimony in the trial of Billy Ray Turner for the murder of Memphis Grizzlies player Lorenzen Wright.


It continued explosive details from the state's key witness - Jimmie Martin - who first took the stand Thursday afternoon.


Martin said Friday Wright's ex-wife Sherra picked him up in Batesville, Mississippi, a few days after the crime, where he met with Turner, and the three cleaned up the crime scene in Southeast Memphis.


Martin also said on the stand he used his mother's metal detector to find one of the murder weapons and went to a dumpster with Turner to throw away towels, barbed wire fence pieces, and bolt cutters.


Martin testified that Sherra Wright told him what happened the night of the crime: "She said a lot of things but just in memory is that Lorenzen had his back to him, they started chasing him, they started firing at him, chasing him, he jumped through the fence, he was jumping like a deer, they caught him, when he fell."


Martin added in the courtroom that Sherra Wright told him after the crime that both he and Turner had guns and both fired at Lorenzen Wright.


Martin said he wasn't at the crime scene and said he didn't tell authorities about his involvement cleaning up the crime scene because he was already in legal trouble and doing so would have put in even more legal trouble.


In Martin's cross examination, Turner's defense attorney John Keith Perry noted inconsistencies with his 2012 statements to investigators compared to Thursday's testimony.


That included Martin originally saying he wasn't armed and didn't go inside Lorenzen Wright's Atlanta condo in a botched attempted murder hit in June 2010, but testifying Thursday that he was armed and did go inside with Turner that night.


Thursday, Martin also testified never before heard details in public about options of how and where to kill Lorenzen Wright, in the weeks before his shooting death.


Martin is the cousin of Lorenzen Wright's ex-wife, Sherra.


He testified Thursday about separate in-person meetings discussing the killing of Lorenzen Wright with Sherra Wright and Billy Turner, the man now on trial accused in Lorenzen's shooting death.


Martin said those May 2010 meetings detailed which weapons could be used in a hit and in a place where few people would be around.


He also told the jury he then went with Turner to Atlanta in what was a botched murder attempt of Lorenzen Wright, weeks before he was killed in Southeast Memphis in July 2010.


After going through a back window, Martin testified what he and Turner saw inside Wright's condo that June 2010 night, saying a smaller man - not Lorenzen - was sleeping on the couch.


Martin said he and Turner then drove back to the Memphis area.


He signed an immunity agreement in 2012 after telling investigators - under oath - he helped clean up the crime scene and traveled with Turner to toss the murder weapon in a Walnut, MS lake.


Martin hasn't testified yet about details or his whereabouts the night of the crime.



Jimmy Martin

The testimony earlier Thursday was highlighted by hours of cross-examination of witness Memphis Police Sgt. Dennis Evans.


Wednesday, Sgt. Evans provided a clearer picture of who was talking to whom near the crime that early July 2010 when Wright was shot and killed in Southeast Memphis.


Billy Ray Turner

Memphis Police Sgt. Dennis Evans outlined phone records and deleted messages between the accused killer Turner and the victim's ex-wife - Sherra Wright - in the weeks before and after Lorenzen Wright's shooting death. They also looked at calls involving Jimmie Martin, the so-called unindicted co-conspirator.


According to court documents, Martin told investigators he helped clean up the crime scene and traveled with Turner to toss the murder weapon in a Walnut, MS lake.


Lorenzen Wright

Investigators also testified that once Lorenzen Wright's murder weapon was found, Sherra Wright's internet searches included 'Billy Turner', "Indictment definition' and 'Do fingerprints stay on objects underwater?'


Records also show more than 250 phone calls between Turner, Martin and Sherra Wright between late June and mid-August 2010.



Sherra Wright, Credit: Tennessee Department of Corrections
Sherra Wright, Credit: Tennessee Department of Corrections

Earlier Wednesday, Memphis Police Detective Jesse Browning continued his witness testimony from Tuesday about phone calls made between Turner, Sherra Wright, and Martin - in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.


TBI Special Agent Cervinia Braswell - who tested the murder weapon found in a Walnut, MS lake - said nine 9 mm cartridge casings found at the crime scene matched that murder weapon.


And Shelby County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marco Ross - who conducted the autopsy - reviewed pictures taken of Lorenzen Wright at the crime scene, which showed entry wound of a bullet below Wright's left ear, an exit wound on the right side of the skull, along with bullets or bullet fragments found in his chest and right arm.


Wednesday's witnesses followed an emotional first day of testimony on Tuesday, when jurors heard the gunshot-filled 911 call which came into a Tennessee police department just after midnight on July 19, 2010, from Wright's cell phone.


 

State’s key witness takes stand in Billy Ray Turner case



MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The man who has confessed to helping plan the murder of basketball star Lorenzen Wright is now testifying against the man he said did it with him. Jimmie Martin took the stand Thursday in the trial of Billy Ray Turner.


Of all the witnesses called so far Martin is the only witness with testimony that claims to place Turner in the middle of the plot to kill Wright.


During court Chief Prosecutor Paul Hagerman and Martin acknowledged Martin signed an memorandum of understanding that protected Martin from having anything he said in court if he told the truth to be used against him.


In 2012 Martin spoke to investigators about Wright’s murder where he told them where the murder weapon was.


On the stand, Martin said in May 2010 Lorenzen Wright’s ex wife Sherra Wright asked him to help her kill Lorenzen Wright. He said there were two meetings at Sherra’s house about it. Billy Ray Turner, the man now on trial for the murder, was at both those meetings Martin says.


Thursday Martin told the jury even after two conversations about logistics of the murder he thought the plan was crazy and didn’t want to do it. He felt Turner was feeling the same way.


But Martin testified no one said that out loud.


“So Sherra is talking about this business she shouldn’t be involved in, killing Lorenzen, is Billy Turner there,” Hagerman asked Martin on the stand.


“Yes sir,” Martin answered.


“Obviously you’re there. And you described it as brainstorming,” Hagerman asked.


“Brainstorming like coming up with ways to perform the act,” Martin answered.


“And this act,” Hagerman said.


“The killing of Lorenzen,” Martin said.


Martin says one of the plans was to kill Lorenzen at his condo in Atlanta.


Martin says he and Turner drove from Memphis to Atlanta in June of 2010, and climbed through a window hoping to run into Lorenzen.


“Basically catch Lorenzen in a compromising position and take care of him” said Martin.


Martin said he was relieved they never ran into Wright, but conversations about how to successfully pull off the murder continued via Facebook Instant Messenger with the accused mastermind of this murder plot, Sherra Wright.


The two used code words, with hopes it couldn’t be traced.


The conversation was disguised as if they were planning a party.


MPD forensic analysts found a message from June 24th, 2010. Sherra Wright wrote: “About your beats. Any luck on getting all the new equipment? I am still asking people who I think u could get deals from.”


“Right there we’re talking about guns. Talking about guns,” said Martin.


Chief prosecutor Hagerman asked what was the reason for new guns?


“Because the guns that she supplied was small caliber 25. 38 and one of them was way too large,” said Martin.


There was this message on July 7th,. just 12 days before Lorenzen was killed.


Martin wrote: “U want me to go to party. Adult theme but the party has kids. When is it gonna be an all adult party or how to plan around that?


Martin explained that “kids” was code for “witnesses”.


The prosecution has not finished their questioning of Martin so that will resume when trial starts back up again Friday morning, then cross examination will begin if the defense chooses.


Before court adjourned on Thursday the prosecution had yet to ask about the night Wright was killed. Those details are expected on Friday.

 

Billy Ray Turner, man accused of killing Lorenzen Wright, appeared in court




MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of killing Lorenzen Wright, made an appearance in court Wednesday morning.

According to records, Turner’s lawyers filed about 15 motions Tuesday.

Turner’s trial is still set to begin in March.


UPDATE: The trial will continue Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.


UPDATE: Deborah Marion, Lorenzen Wright’s mother, ran out of the courtroom after the prosecutor asked for the 911 call to be played.


UPDATE: Claudia Robinson said “J” showed up to the house to pick up the money. Turner was present at the time and he was over at the house quite often.


Robinson said Sherra stated again “He has at hit on me. It has to be him or me.” Robinson did not believe Lorenzen was trying to kill Sherra. She also stated that “J” told Sherra that Robinson “can get off’ed too.”


Robinson said she did not immediately go to police because she was “fearful for her life”.


UPDATE: Second witness, Claudia Robinson, has testified that she overheard a conversation held between Sherra and Billy Ray Turner where Sherra stated she wanted Lorenzen dead because he had a hit on her.


Robinson said she heard Sherra tell Turner “it’s him or me.”


Robinson is Sherra’s first cousin and the Wright’s former nanny.


UPDATE: Deborah Marion, Lorenzen Wright’s mother, has been called to the stand.


Marion said Sherra didn’t tell her that Lorenzen was missing and that she knew something was wrong when he didn’t return her phone calls.


UPDATE: Assistant District Attorney Paul Hagerman showed the jury the murder weapon that was retrieved from a Batesville, MS lake – the gun he says Sherra’s cousin Jimmie Martin led authorities to.

“It was thrown in a lake and nobody was ever supposed to see it again,” Hagerman said.




MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of killing former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, has a trial date set for Mar. 14, 2022.

A judge has set aside two weeks for the jury trial.

The case that’s been years in the making.

Wright’s mom spoke about it, She said she was frustrated a trial date had not yet been set.

“They gone (sic) drag it on as long as they can, as long as they can,” said Deborah Wright.

Marion was frustrated Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of killing her son, has not gone to trial.

Initially, Turner’s trial date was set for September 2019. It was reset so his attorney could look over new evidence.

The new trial date was slated for October 2020, but did not happen because of the pandemic.

“In general, there will be trial settings. Things are starting to return to normal. We still have a lot of the COVID guidelines to be followed in the courtrooms,” Turner’s attorney said.

Marion said this is an ongoing issue she is sick of.

“He needs to get a life sentence. When my son comes home they can all come home, but he’s never coming home, so they don’t need to either,” said Marion.

Marion said she knows a trial could be underway because she witnessed it, the Derek Chauvin trial.

“Look at George Floyd’s trial. And how long he been dead, a year. And how long Lorenzo been dead? 11 what kind of sense does that make?” said Marion.

Sherra Wright, Lorenzen’s ex-wife, pleaded guilty to facilitating murder back in 2019 and is serving up to a 30-year sentence. Turner’s attorney said his client is ready for his day in court, and so is Marion.

“I want a trial, because I want to know everything,” said Marion.

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