Nba player

Man sentenced on lesser charges in NBA player’s murder

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — A Tennessee man serving a life sentence after his first-degree murder conviction in the murder of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was sentenced Friday on less serious conspiracy charges and attempted murder in the 12-year-old case.

Shelby County Judge Lee Coffee sentenced Billy Ray Turner to 25 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and the attempted murder charge. Turner was convicted March 21 in the fatal shooting of Wright, a 6-foot-11 center who played 13 seasons in the NBA before retiring after the 2008-09 season.

Coffee sentenced Turner, 51, to life in prison on the day of his sentencing. Turner was already serving a 16-year sentence for possession of a weapon as a convicted felon. Turner was found with two guns when he was arrested in 2017 in the Wright murder and he pleaded guilty in 2019.

The judge decided that the 25-year sentences would be served simultaneously or at the same time. Added to the 16-year sentence for the firearms charge, Turner was essentially sentenced to life plus 41 years in prison, with the possibility of parole, Coffee said.

The murder is one of the highest profile murder cases in Memphis history. Wright’s decomposing body was found riddled with gunshot wounds in a marshy field east of Memphis on July 28, 2010. The 34-year-old father of six had been missing for days before his body was be discovered.

During Turner’s trial, prosecutors said Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, orchestrated a plan to kill her ex-husband and recruited Turner and his cousin, Jimmie Martin, to help her.

Turner and Sherra Wright were charged in December 2017, more than seven years after the murder. Sherra Wright entered a surprise guilty plea for facilitating 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 murder, Martin was facing charges of killing his girlfriend and he said his cousin helped pay for some of his legal fees. Martin was convicted and is currently serving a prison sentence in this case.

Martin received immunity from prosecution in the Wright case. He testified that he went with Turner to kill Wright in Atlanta in a failed murder attempt. Martin also testified that he went with Turner to a Mississippi lake to dump the gun used in the murder.

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

At Friday’s hearing, the judge cited Turner’s previous convictions for kidnapping, firearm and drug trafficking as he added years to the life sentence.

“He’s a dangerous offender,” Coffee said. “He did not hesitate to commit this crime.”

By Adrian Sainz
Associated press