The saga of former NBA star Lorenzen Wright’s murder came to a close yesterday in a Memphis courtroom, as a jury convicted the man accused of killing him back in 2010. Billy Ray Turner, 51, was convicted of first degree murder, conspiracy and attempted murder in Wright’s death in a case that captivated the fallen athlete’s hometown and drew national attention.
Turner was sentenced to life in prison on the murder charge but has yet to be sentenced for the conspiracy and attempted murder counts. He was already in a Tennessee prison serving a 16-year sentence on a gun possession case from 2017. The new sentence virtually guarantees that he’ll never get out.
The 6-foot-11 Wright disappeared just a year after retiring from a 14-year career in the NBA, in which he played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers. His case gripped his hometown of Memphis, with police chasing leads that included Wright’s potential involvement in drug dealing and other theories. Nothing panned out.
His body was found in a field in July 2010 after a search that dragged on for days. He was 34 years old.
Years passed with the crime unsolved until a tip led the FBI to the murder weapon, which had been dumped in a lake in Mississippi. The case came together from there, leading to a murderous conspiracy led by Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra, who wanted him dead to collect on a $1 million life insurance policy.
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.
Sherra Wright is already serving a 30-year sentence for her role in the killing.