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Billy Ray Turner Trial Updates

Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of murdering NBA star Lorenzen Wright 10 years ago, will now head to trial Monday, March 14th.

Billy Ray Turner Trial Updates

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.

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

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- 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, a 6-foot, 11-inch center who played 13 seasons in the NBA before he retired after the 2008-09 campaign. Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee sentenced Turner, 51, to life in prison for the murder conviction. He will be sentenced for the other charges at a later date.

Coffee called Wright "a sacred son'' of Memphis and told his mother, Deborah Marion, that the trial might not bring her closure but to "celebrate the good'' about her son.

Outside the courtroom, Marion told reporters she was elated with the verdict. She said she would visit her son's grave Monday night.

"It'll never be closure, because I'll never see my son again,'' Marion said. "This is just some satisfaction for me and my family.''

The slaying is one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Memphis history. Wright's decomposing body was found riddled with bullet wounds in a swampy field in east Memphis on July 28, 2010. The 34-year-old father of six had been missing for days before his body was discovered.

Turner had already pleaded guilty to possessing a weapon as a convicted felon after he was found with two guns when he was arrested in Wright's killing in 2017. Turner is serving a 16-year prison sentence on the separate gun charge.

Prosecutors allege Wright's ex-wife, Sherra Wright, masterminded a plan to kill her ex-husband and recruited Turner and her cousin, Jimmie Martin, to help her.

Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted in December 2017, more than seven years after the killing. Sherra Wright entered a surprise guilty plea to facilitation of murder in July 2019 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Turner is a landscaper who knew Sherra Wright from church and, according to prosecutors, had a secret romantic relationship with her.

At the time of Wright's slaying, Martin was facing charges of killing his girlfriend, and he said his cousin helped pay part of his legal fees. Martin was convicted and is currently serving prison time in that case. He has received immunity from prosecution in the Wright case.

Martin testified that Sherra Wright recruited him and Turner to kill Lorenzen Wright. Parts of his testimony were challenged by defense attorney John Keith Perry, who said the information Martin gave to investigators was a farce and full of lies.

Martin testified that he and Turner met with Sherra Wright to plan the killing and went to Lorenzen Wright's condominium in Atlanta to shoot him, with an understanding that he would get paid.

Armed with handguns, Turner and Martin went to Wright's condo in Atlanta, entered through a window and found someone sleeping on the couch in the living room -- but it was not Lorenzen Wright, Martin testified. Turner and Martin returned home without killing anyone.

Martin told prosecutor Paul Hagerman that he was in Batesville, Mississippi, at the time of the shooting just after midnight on July 19, 2010. Martin said he went to the Memphis field with Sherra Wright some days after the shooting and she essentially confessed.

Lorenzen Wright was visiting Memphis from Atlanta. Sherra Wright said she lured her ex-husband to the field by telling him that she was going to meet someone there to get some money, Martin testified. According to Martin, she said that she and Turner ambushed and chased Lorenzen Wright, who jumped a fence and tried to run away before they shot him in the field.

The jury heard a chilling 911 call made by Lorenzen Wright that captured the pop-pop-pop sound of multiple gunshots.

Martin also said Turner and Wright got rid of evidence from the shooting scene and he went with Turner to dispose of the weapon by dumping it in a north Mississippi lake. Martin said he told detectives in 2012 where the gun was located. It was later found by FBI divers.

In closing arguments, Perry said Martin's "crazy, contrived'' story was not believable. Perry said Martin -- not Turner -- was in Memphis the night Lorenzen Wright was shot.

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman defended Martin's testimony, saying Martin's immunity agreement required him to tell the truth and statements given to investigators and prosecutors have been consistent.

Prosecutor Austin Scofield said Sherra Wright told Turner during a meeting at her house that Lorenzen Wright had a hit out on her.

Citing witness testimony, Scofield said Turner responded: "What do you want me to do, Sherra?''

Neither Turner nor Sherra Wright testified during the trial.

A motive for the slaying was not clear, though Hagerman said the killers were driven by jealousy and greed.

Sherra Wright 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.

Marion, the slain player's mother, said she's convinced the insurance policy was Sherra Wright's motivation.

"That's what it was about. Money,'' Marion 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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