Jury finds Billy Ray Turner guilty of all charges in Lorenzen Wright murder, sentenced to life in prison

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 5:59 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2022 at 1:41 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Jurors have found the man accused of killing basketball star Lorenzen Wright guilty of all charges.

Less than three hours into deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, Judge Lee Coffee said. Turner must serve at least 85 percent of that sentence, or 51 years.

Turner’s other charges both carry 15- to 25-year sentences, which will be determined later.

Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, spoke after the verdict saying she was elated.

“I haven’t felt this good in 12 years!” said Marion.

She shook her head inside the courtroom as the verdict was read.

“If it had taken 24 years I wouldn’t mind,” she said later. “We got it. We did this.”

Closing arguments took place Monday after a week of testimony that stretched into the weekend. Both sides rested Saturday after the final witnesses testified over the weekend.

Deliberations began around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Over the course of the trial, nearly a dozen witnesses took the stand, including a Memphis police detective, Wright’s mother and the state’s key witness, Jimmie J. Martin, who is the cousin of Sherra Wright, Lorenzen’s ex-wife. Martin was the only witness with testimony that places Turner in the middle of the plot to kill Wright in 2010.

The state says in a murder conspiracy someone always tells, and prosecutors say Martin did just that in 2012.

“That’s why we’re here, because this case was dead in the water,” prosecutor Austin Scofield said during closing arguments. “It was a cold case.”

The defense says Martin signed a deal with investigators that protected him from prosecution in this case, and that’s why he was eager to point the finger at Turner.

“You see he has all the incentive in the world, he’s angry at his cousin, and he just simply takes Billy’s name and inserts it where it belongs,” defense attorney John Perry said during his closing.

The state called a detective to the stand who was surveilling Turner and Sherra Wright in 2017 before they were arrested. The jury was shown pictures the detective took of a meeting between the two after she flew to Memphis following reports the alleged murder weapon was found in a Mississippi lake.

The detective testified that while they couldn’t hear the conversation between Turner and Sherra Wright, investigators found it suspicious.

The defense asked for a motion of acquittal saying the state did not meet the burden of proof as most of their case lies on the testimony of confessed co-conspirator Martin.

The defense called his testimony contradictory, but Judge Lee Coffee denied that motion.

Jennifer Bogan was the only witness called by the defense. She testified that Turner was at her cookout on the evening of Sunday, July 18, 2010, hours before investigators believed Wright was killed.

Investigators believe Wright died a few minutes after midnight July 19 after he placed a 911 call to Germantown police.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2022 WMC. All rights reserved.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.

Latest News

Latest News