Billy Ray Turner sentenced to life in prison for killing former NBA player Lorenzen Wright

Memphis, Tenn. – A Tennessee man serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder involving the murder of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was sentenced Friday on lesser charges of conspiracy and attempted murder.

Shelby County Judge Lee Coffey sentenced Billy Ray Turner to 25 years in prison for conspiracy and attempted murder. Turner was convicted of shooting Wright, who played 13 seasons in the NBA before retiring after March 21, 2008-09.

Coffee sentenced 51-year-old Turner to life in prison on the day he was convicted. Turner was already serving a 16-year sentence for carrying a weapon as a convicted felon. When he was arrested in 2017 in connection with Wright’s murder, Turner found two guns and in 2019 he pleaded guilty.

The sentence of 25 years will run simultaneously, the judge ruled. In a 16-year sentence on a gun charge, Turner has been sentenced to 41 years in prison with the possibility of life imprisonment and parole, Coffee said.

One of the most infamous murder cases in Memphis history. On July 28, 2010, Wright’s decomposed body was found dug into a swampy ground in East Memphis. The father of six children, 34, had been missing for several days before his body was found.

During Turner’s trial, prosecutors said Wright’s ex-wife, Shera Wright, planned to kill her ex-husband and hired Turner and his cousin Jimmy Martin to help her.

Turner and Shera Wright were charged in December 2017, seven years after the murder. Shera Wright pleaded guilty in July 2019 to aiding and abetting the murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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

At the time of Wright’s murder, Martin was accused of murdering his girlfriend and of allegedly helping his cousin pay part of his legal fees. Martin was convicted and is currently serving a prison sentence in that case.

Martin was acquitted in the Wright case. He testified that he had gone to Atlanta with Turner to kill Wright in a failed assassination attempt. Martin also testified that he went with Turner to throw the gun used in the murder into Mississippi Lake.

Lorenzen Wright played college basketball at the University of Memphis and spent time with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzly. At the end of the trial, Coffee called Wright the “holy son” of Memphis.

During Friday’s hearing, the judge cited Turner’s previous convictions for kidnapping, gun and drug charges as he added a few years of life imprisonment.

“He’s a dangerous criminal,” Coffee said. “He didn’t look back to commit this crime.”

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