Billy Ray Turner denied new trial in Lorenzen Wright murder case

Billy Ray Turner
Billy Ray Turner(Source: WMC)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 4:28 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A motion for a new trial was held on Friday for Billy Ray Turner, the man who was found guilty of the 2017 murder of NBA star Lorenzen Wright.

Back in March, a jury returned guilty verdicts for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder concluding Turner’s trial.

On July 8, he was back in court for sentencing. He was sentenced to life in prison with an additional 41 years behind bars for criminal attempted murder and conspiracy.

A life sentence in Tennessee is 51 years.

Turner’s attorney John Keith Perry claimed that the first trial wasn’t fair and that circumstances in the trial should give Turner a new chance for freedom.

Perry said Shelby County Judge Lee Coffee’s demeanor may have hinted to the jury that the judge favored Turner’s prosecution.

“That seems to put us in a paradox that the judge feels a certain way toward this side of the table versus that side of the table,” Perry said.

Perry listed the number of rulings on objections and the judge not allowing recordings to be played in the courthouse among reasons why the case should be retried.

“The last memory that they (the jury) are given when going back to deliberate was regarding the fact that the court felt my behavior was disrespectful to the court during that week,” Perry said. “And just to be clear, it painted me in a light of unprofessionalism.”

The prosecution, on the other hand, disagreed.

“Mr. Turner had a fair trial that your honor presided over without bias and in accordance with the law,” said prosecutor Paul Hagerman.

Coffee also disagreed with Perry, saying that he did disrespect the court.

“Anytime Mr. Perry made an objection, I ruled on it. Mr. Perry argued and wanted to continue to argue,” Coffee said.”He knows what he said. He knows what he did. He knows it was disrespectful. He knows that it was ill-tempered.”

Ultimately, Coffee denied Turner’s request for a new trial, setting his appeal in place.

“A long hard trial,” Hagerman said. “Everybody fought hard, and the evidence and the truth prevailed.”

Turner’s lawyers have 30 days to file an appeal. They will be determining whether or not Turner can afford representation or if someone else will be appointed to the case.

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