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 2008-2009 season. 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.
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.