How Operation Rebound’s 7-Year Cold Case was Finally Solved

Lorenzen Wright, Former NBA Player, Memphis Grizzlies

Investigation Reports. The murder of Former NBA Player Lorenzen Wright was one of the Memphis Police Department’s most high-profile unsolved cases. Wright was 34 years old. Lorenzen was recently divorced from his wife, Sherra Wright, of 13 years and was the father of their six children.

Lorenzen Wright played college basketball at the University of Memphis. In 1996, Lorenzen was a first-round draft pick, seventh overall, for the Los Angeles Clippers. Wright spent three years playing for L.A. He also won the hearts of so many because of his impact on thousands of kids who were inspired by him.

Lorenzen Wright, Los Angeles Clippers

In 2001, Wright signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was back home with his family and with money in his pocket. He had just signed a six-year, $42 million deal at that point.

Lorenzen Wright, Memphis Grizzlies

Lorenzen Wright was known for his hard work on the court, but it was his work off the court that truly endeared him to his fans at home.

He played 13 seasons in the NBA throughout his basketball career, including the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks. He was retired from the league when he was killed.

Lorenzen often returned to Memphis from Atlanta to spend time with his kids. On Sunday, July 18, 2010, Lorenzen Wright visited Memphis from his Georgia home to see his children and attend his sister’s baby shower. He had a chance to interact with his children and watch his teenage son, Lorenzen Jr., play basketball. Sadly, it would be the last time.

Phil Dotson was Lorenzen’s best friend and fraternity brother at the University of Memphis. Dotson recalled that Lorenzen was in high school playing for Sherra’s father, Coach Julius Robinson, and she would come to practices. I believe that’s how they met.

Phil Dotson: He never met a fan that he didn’t like. He would sign every autograph that he came across. He was always a pillar in the community. Always volunteered. Always would be one of the first ones to raise their hand when the team would ask for a player to go into a children’s hospital, or to go and speak at a school or an event. He was just that type of guy.

Gayle Rose is as dedicated to the city of Memphis as Lorenzen was. He was one young man who was working to make a difference and he symbolized hope in our community. My relationship was really about our mutual interest in Memphis … and that generous big heart of his. It was Rose’s son, Max, that brought them together at a summer basketball camp.

Gayle Rose: Lorenzen took a very special liking to Max. And you know, for Max at age 11, this is a hero, a real-life hero that he gets to be in the gym with. Lorenzen is an example to every young boy … it doesn’t matter White or Black … that if you work hard and you have the gifts, that you can … get at this level. …He loved children.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Phil Dotson: I’d gotten a phone call from him that he had gotten in town… That Sunday evening, we had gone to pick up his son, Lorenzen Jr., from the gym. He’d had been playing basketball that evening. Dotson says Sherra insisted Lorenzen bring their son home to her house that night. And I ended up dropping him off that night at about 10:00 p.m. And when I dropped him off, he said, “Let me go in here and deal with this. And I’ll give you a call later.”

But Lorenzen never called his friend that night. Instead, he called for help.

That evening, Lorenzen visited his ex-wife at their house near Collierville, Tennessee. Sherra Wright later told police that Lorenzen left the house with another person, whom she did not know, and that they drove off in a vehicle she did not recognize.

Authorities said after leaving his home that evening, Lorenzen was not seen nor heard from again. Sherra Wright falsely claimed that Lorenzen had left the house to conduct an alleged deal and was carrying an unspecified amount of money. Sherra alleged that Lorenzen returned to the home and left again in a vehicle driven by an unidentified person. Before he left the second time, she heard him making phone calls on two of his cell phones, a TracFone and an iPhone. She told police that she heard Lorenzen say he was going to “flip something for $110,000.” She also said Lorenzen left his wallet behind.

Lorenzen Wright had made a desperate call for help and no one knew about it. That frantic call was placed on the morning of July 19, just hours after Lorenzen was dropped off at Sherra’s. The call came in to a 911 dispatcher in Germantown, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis. But it ended before the caller could give his name and location.

The chilling recording captured the 34-year-old’s dying word: “Goddamn.” A dispatcher then heard repeated gunshots – 11 in all – unaware where it was happening or who was on the other end of the line.

Two days after dropping off Lorenzen at his ex-wife’s home, his friend, Phil Dotson got an unexpected call. It was Lorenzen’s mother looking for her son.

Phil Dotson: “Have you talked to Lorenzen? I can’t reach him.” And I said, “Well, I figured he might just be outta town, he’s not answering the phone call.” So, I reached out to him as well and didn’t hear anything back.

After not hearing from her son for more than 48 hours, Deborah Marion filed a missing person’s report with the police.

April Thompson, an investigative reporter at WREG, the CBS affiliate in Memphis, was on this story from the start.

April Thompson: His mother Deborah, really kind of pushed that something’s not right, and made people realize that he wouldn’t have been gone this long that no one heard from him.

DEBORAH MARION [WREG NEWS REPORT]: … nowhere he could be that I don’t know where he is … We checked all his friends from here to Atlanta, Mississippi, everywhere. So I don’t have a clue.

April Thompson: It was really kind of strange in how it happened that he had disappeared, and he was gone over all of these days, and nobody knew anything.

Most troubling for Lorenzen’s family was that he seemed to have disappeared without a trace.

DEBORAH MARION [WREG NEWS REPORT] Phone goes straight to voicemail. Just rings four times and goes straight to voicemail.

But what they didn’t realize at the time was that Lorenzen had actually left behind a clue. On the 911 recording are his dying words and the sound of 11 gunshots:

911 CALL: Oh, Goddamn [BANG, BANG].

911 OPERATOR: Germantown 911, where’s your emergency? 

911 CALL: [BANG] 

911 OPERATOR: Hello?


911 OPERATOR: Hello?


911 OPERATOR: Hello?

911 OPERATOR: I don’t have nothing but gunshots.

As the days passed Lorenzen’s disappearance became one of the biggest mysteries Memphis had ever seen.

Lorenzen’s ex-wife, Sherra, went on the news—appearing shaken.

SHERRA WRIGHT [WREG NEWS REPORT]: “He was fine. And he’s fine now. And I can’t… I’m not gonna believe anything other than he’s fine now.”

She said the last time she saw Lorenzen was on that Sunday night, July 18, at her home.

SHERRA WRIGHT [WREG NEWS REPORT]: “He wasn’t able to spend the night because he wasn’t here quite that long, but he ran out and he never came back.”

But a few days later when police questioned Sherra, her story had surprising new details.

The last time Deborah Marion saw her son was shortly before July 4, when he told his mother he planned to visit Memphis on July 17 or 18. When he did not attend his sister’s baby shower, Ms. Marion attempted to call him to find out where he was. When he did not answer her calls, she called his oldest daughter, who had tried to call her father five times after the baby shower, but he did not answer. After unsuccessful attempts to reach her son, Ms. Marion spoke with Sherra Wright, who did not say Lorenzen was missing but told her that the “police better do their job.” This response caused Ms. Marion substantial concern, so she contacted the police and reported her son missing. Ms. Marion said Sherra never reported Lorenzen as a missing person.

Investigator Browning stated that Lorenzen Wright flew into Memphis on July 18, 2010, and was murdered at 12:12 a.m. on July 19, 2010. Between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on July 18, the victim went to a Lifetime Fitness location in Memphis to pick up his 15-year-old son and then drove to Ms. Wright’s house to drop off the child. The police investigation revealed that no one spoke to the victim, perhaps other than Ms. Wright, between that time and the time the victim was killed.

Germantown: The 911 Call

On July 19, shortly after midnight, a 911 call from Lorenzen’s cell phone was received by the dispatch center in Germantown, TN. The caller was speaking with the dispatcher when 11 gunshots rang out. His whereabouts were unknown at the time, and Lorenzen was unable to relay logistical information—he screamed the phrase “Hey God damn” as the repeated popping sound of gunshots was heard, followed by silence. The dispatcher did not report the call to her supervisor until eight days later, hindering the police investigation.

At 12:12 a.m. on July 19, 2010, a 911 call was placed from the victim’s phone. The call was routed to Germantown dispatch. An audio recording of that call was played for the jury at trial. On the recording, an initial gunshot is heard, followed by a male voice yelling, “oh, f***.” A different male voice then says, “Get him.” Two more gunshots are heard, accompanied by another man’s strained voice crying out, “Oh, g**d***.” Another gunshot is heard, followed by a pause, two more gunshots, and another pause, followed by six gunshots in rapid succession. The 911 dispatcher attempted to speak to the caller but received no response. After the gunshots ceased, the operator said, “Sounds like nothing but gunshots.”

Collierville Police discovered the 911 call while investigating the victim’s disappearance. The Germantown Police identified a potential area from which the 911 call was made, a location that corresponded to the wooded area near Callis Cut Off Road.

The police executed a search warrant at her house between the time of the victim’s disappearance and the recovery of his body. Officers found evidence suggesting documents had been burned in a fire pit. Photographs taken during the search of Ms. Wright’s back yard showed a burned fragment of paper featuring the word “north” and part of the word “attorneys.”

The police also obtained a search warrant for Ms. Wright’s cellular phone and discovered that roughly 25 minutes before the 911 call was placed, Ms. Wright sent a text message to Billy Ray Turner which read, “Imma need my commission. Ren want you to bring your cards in the a.m. before he fly out. You owe me, boy.”

According to court documents and trial testimony, beginning on July 17, 2010, Sherra and Lorenzen sent a series of sexually explicit texts to each other, with Ms. Wright enticing him to return to Memphis. Ms. Wright’s phone also contained communications with a contact named “Edna Jay,” who was, in fact, her cousin Jimmie Martin, a suspect in 2010 along with Ms. Wright and Billy Ray Turner.

Additionally, in 2010, the police obtained Facebook messages sent between June 16 and September 9, 2010, between Ms. Wright and “Jay Martin,” where they discussed “getting a party together,” which Investigator Browning believed was “code for killing Lorenzen Wright.” Phone records from 2010 revealed communications between Billy Ray and Jimmie Martin, as well as communications between a pay phone in Batesville, Mississippi, and Billy Ray’s phone. The pay phone was near Jimmie Martin’s residence at the time of Lorenzen’s death. Between 10:00 p.m. July 18, 2010, and the morning of July 19, 2010, the only text messages from Ms. Wright’s phone were (1) the message referenced above, in which Ms. Wright texted Billy Ray about her “commission” and (2) a responsive text of “okay” from Billy Ray to Ms. Wright.

Lorenzen Wright

On July 28, 2010, nine days after the 911 call, law enforcement searched the area and found the victim’s decomposing body. The shooting did not appear to be connected to a robbery gone wrong. A necklace and other jewelry, including an expensive wristwatch were found on the body’s remains. Prosecutors introduced several crime scene photographs of the area around Callis Cut Off Road, which showed what appeared to be several rows of barbed wire that had been cut from poles found in the wooded area. Three types of spent bullet casings—five .25 caliber, one 9 mm caliber, and one .380 caliber—were also found near the victim’s body. Bullet fragments were found in the victim’s arm, chest, and head. Several other items were found at the scene and tested for DNA but yielded no usable profile.

Lorenzen Wright went missing on July 18, 2010, and was found shot to death 10 days later in a wooded area on Callis-Cutoff Road. On July 28, his skeletal remains were found in a remote wooded area. Investigator Browning testified that at the time of the victim’s death, Billy Ray lived about two or three miles from the area where Lorenzen’s body was found, while Ms. Wright lived “three or four times as far” from this location.

Investigators learned that his call for help as shots were fired bounced to Germantown, Tennessee, where the 911 operator failed to report it. With this information, police were able to locate his body. He’d been dead for 9 days when police cadaver dogs found his badly decomposed body.

WREG NEWS REPORT:  Police in Memphis, Tennessee, have found the Body of Former NBA player, Lorenzen Wright

Police find Lorenzen’s body near a back wood’s road some 20 miles outside of Memphis. Lorenzen Wright’s body was found in a wooded area adjacent to the Fieldstone Apartments, located off Hacks Cross Road and Winchester Road.  Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, arrived at the scene with a handful of family members. She crossed the crime scene tape and tried to talk to police but she was told to move back. She sat in a van before returning to the tape. Two officers then let her through. The distraught mother then started running down the road toward the crime scene before being stopped by an officer. She spoke with officers, then walked back past reporters without speaking straight to a van.

Lorenzen Wright’s death shook his hometown of Memphis, where he was a fan favorite thanks to his charity work with youth and his father’s involvement as a coach in summer leagues. Former NBA players and friends, including Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and Elliot Perry, attended a memorial service for Wright in the days after his body was found.

Dr. Bill Adkins: And I turned on the television … And I saw Deborah, his mom, running down the road, tryin’ to get to his body. It was a total shock. It was just unbelievable that he was dead…somebody just murdered him. Not for money, not robbery. Just wanted him dead.

Gayle Rose: I literally fell off my chair and on the ground and cried.

Phil Dotson: All of the arrows were pointing towards her.

To April Thompson, “the crime seemed personal. Whoever had something to do with this; it was something deep down. …It was very emotional. It was very emotional.”

Gossip started spreading and suspicion quickly fell on Sherra Wright and her concocted stories. The DEA ultimately found no drug connection between Lorenzen and Cole. But it cast a shadow over Lorenzen’s squeaky clean image and reinforced Sherra’s accusations that he was involved in a high stakes drug transaction the night he was murdered.

Dr. Bill Adkins: What troubled me the most was Lorenzen was killed twice. He was killed physically. Then his character was assassinated… People now don’t think of him as that charming, happy young man who played for Memphis. Now they think of him as a drug dealer.

Sherra and Lorenzen Wright in 2003

Lorenzen Wright’s Autopsy Report

According to the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, he was shot twice in the head, twice near his heart, and once in his forearm. The toxicology test found no drugs in his system. The autopsy showed Lorenzen Wright’s body was so decomposed that the NBA player, who once stood at 6’11” and weighed 255 pounds, weighed just 57 lbs. when cadaver dogs found the remains.  His body was reduced to mainly skeleton and mummified skin in the hundred-degree heat. By the time it had been discovered, his body had been exposed to intense heat, rain, and animals.

Lorenzen Wright and Friends

Lorenzen Wright’s Memorial Services

On August 4, 2010, family and friends of Lorenzen Wright grieved during a memorial service held at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. His hometown turned out in force to say one last emotional goodbye.

His grandmother, his father Herb, his mother Deborah, his ex-wife Sherra and their six children were dealing in their own ways with Lorenzen’s death.

Lorenzen Wright’s Memorial Service Held at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis (August 4, 2010, YouTube Video)

Hundreds of fans, friends and family members of the former NBA player filed into the FedEx Forum in Memphis for Wright’s memorial service and funeral, remembering the man many called “Ren” as a loving, gentle, charitable family man.

Relatives and friends fought off tears, still in disbelief at the way he died.

Jeffrey L. Archie said that he may never understand why someone would kill his brother. “To me he was invincible,” Archie said. “There’s no reason for anybody to take him like this.”

“As loving as Lorenzen was, and he gave so much to so many people, if we can just come together and love each other instead of all this violence, it will be a much better world,” Lorenzen’s father Herb Wright said after the service.

Wright contributed to children’s charities, holding basketball camps, contributing to child reading programs and visiting St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

As people mourned, police worked to find the killers. Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton said, “I want you to know that we are working day and night, not to see that things are done quickly, not to rush, but that things are done right, and that justice will be done. That is our prayer.”

Memphis Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley said Wright had movie star looks with an infectious smile and served as the team’s leader. Wright spent five of his 13 seasons in the NBA with the team from the city he was born.

“We should all leave this hall with the thought that were going to do a little bit in Lorenzen’s honor to make sure things like this don’t happen again,” Heisley said. “That’s the biggest service you could pay him.”

With the community still in shock, the city’s mayor, A.C. Wharton, made this promise:

Mayor Wharton: “We are working night and day …  And that justice will be done. That’s our pledge.”

Lorenzen Wright: We Still Shedding Tears

Memphis Police Investigation

Toney Armstrong served with the Memphis Police Department for 27 years and was their Deputy Director back then.

Despite the enormous pressure to solve the murder of Lorenzen Wright, the investigation was hampered from the very beginning.

Toney Armstrong: When we first picked this case up, we inherited a cold case. Because his body wasn’t found for a long time after he had initially been reported missing, important forensic evidence was lost due to decomposition. And the killers had a nine-day head start.

Gayle Rose | Lorenzen’s friend:  Well, I know at the time Toney Armstrong was their chief of police, and this was very personal to him. And he pledged that he would find the killer. Armstrong says his department never gave up on the investigation.

Toney Armstrong: I can tell you that we threw everything but the kitchen sink at this investigation.

Deborah Marion, Lorenzen Wright’s Mother

Toney Armstrong: It was heartbreaking. Just gut-wrenching to sit across the desk and talk to her and to see the pain that she was in. I wanted to be able to make that phone call to her and tell her, you know, that we found the person responsible for this. I wanted to deliver that news to her. And we just wasn’t able to at that time.

Meanwhile, in their search for possible suspects, detectives were uncovering details of Lorenzen’s private life, and it was troubling.

Even though he had reportedly earned more than $55 million during his NBA career, Lorenzen had burned through most of the money and was almost broke at the time of his death.

Marc Perrusquia | Reporter, The Commercial Appeal: “They had two homes, expensive homes that were in foreclosure … Sherra said they were bouncing checks left and right.”

Lead Investigator Marion Goods said, “Sherra was a person of interest from the moment Wright’s body was found, but it took several years to build a case against her.” Murder charges couldn’t be brought on speculation alone.

Sherra Wright concocted a false story about her ex-husband to cover up her leading role in his execution. They had been together 13 years when Lorenzen divorced Sherra, 5 months before his body was found. Sherra brought shame to Lorenzen Wright’s name and reputation with her lies.

Investigator Goods said, “I told the police since day one that she was involved. She was the only one who benefited from him being dead. She knew he was really done with her and was moving on with his life. She couldn’t stand it.”

“She is a cold-hearted, manipulative killer,” Goods said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that she is cold-blooded and calculating.”

Court documents show that police searched the home for paperwork on two guns that Wright was believed to own, as well as ammunition and cell phones. The documents indicate Wright could have been shot with his own weapons because “shell casings of different calibers were recovered with Wright’s body.” Sherra Wright originally told police that her estranged husband left her home around 2 a.m. on July 19. But a 911 call put the estimated time of death closer to midnight. As many as a dozen gunshots could be heard on a recording of the 911 call. 

Despite the allegations against Lorenzen, many people were still suspicious of Sherra. Three months after the murder, she agreed to talk to April Thompson.

April Thompson Interviews Sherra Wright | WREG reporter: I was surprised that she agreed to the interview. There was a lot of speculation going around that she knew something, that she had something to do with it. And I just told her, I said, “This is your opportunity to tell your side of the story.”

APRIL THOMPSON: “Did you have anything to do with Lorenzo’s murder?”

SHERRA WRIGHT: “No, April. No. If I knew who did this to Lorenzen you would know who did this to Lorenzen.”

April Thompson: I have heard people say that … she liked the wealth … I asked her what she was doing for money.

APRIL THOMPSON: “So how are you getting by now?”

SHERRA WRIGHT: “I was married to an NBA basketball player for 13 years, April. My watch is a car, or my ring is a house, I mean, he was good to me.”

Lorenzen Wright’s Wife and Children Evicted from their Home (2010)

Sherra Wright’s attorney, Gail Mathes, said the children, especially the older boys, were having a hard time dealing with the death of their father and the allegations that their mother could be involved. Sherra had also taken her children out of their school.

Foreclosure of the Wright’s Collierville House

Lorenzen Wright owned the home at 220 Mountain Brook Cove with his ex-wife Sherra.

The two-story, 17-room home was completed in 2008 with a $2.7 million construction loan through BankTennessee dated May 16, 2006. The Wrights defaulted on that loan, according to notices published in The Daily News, prompting the foreclosure and subsequent trustee’s sale. The Wrights owned two neighboring parcels totaling about 12 acres. They bought the vacant land in 2005 and 2006 for a combined $750,000 when they sold their former home in Southwind.

BankTennessee bought the custom-built, 12,475-square-foot house, near Raleigh-LaGrange and Reid Hooker Roads, for $1.3 million on the Shelby County Courthouse steps.

Was Money the Motive for Lorenzen Wright’s Murder?

Records Show Signs of Trouble in Wrights’ Finances Before Killing (April Thompson, WREG3News, December 2017)

According to Basketball-Reference, Lorenzen Wright earned $55.2 million over 13 seasons in the NBA. Despite amassing such wealth, Lorenzen and Sherra were in financial distress when his NBA career ended. A bank sought to repossess his home, and the couple owed money elsewhere. They also had six children to raise.

Dr. Bill Adkins—Lorenzen’s Mentor—Pastor Adkins recalled that “they both, unfortunately, liked to spend. And I do mean spend. Most married couples have trouble with lack of finances. His problem was affluence and how to handle that affluence. And that caused severe issues between him and his wife. But it was a family tragedy in 2003 that would break Lorenzen’s heart and eventually his marriage for good.  

Phil Dotson: His daughter Sierra passed away of sudden infant death syndrome. She was probably around 11 months old at the time of her passing, which was very hard on him.

Over the next few years, Lorenzen and Sherra separated and later divorced. Lorenzen was traded to Atlanta, which he would call home after leaving the NBA in 2009, while Sherra and the kids stayed in Memphis. After that, he spent a year playing basketball in Europe.

“Everything happened because of money,” said Lorenzen’s mother, Deborah Marion, who has said all along money was a motive in her son’s murder.

His ex-wife Sherra Wright told WREG about his life of luxury during a 2010 interview, just 3 months after Lorenzen’s death.

“He was an NBA basketball player. He always had a lot of money … Lorenzen has always been a good provider for me and the children.”

But near the end of his life, there were signs of trouble—finances spiraling out of control and Sherra’s fight for money after the two split.

Sherra Wright’s then-attorney said she was in a court battle for child support.

“Ms. Wright did not receive any regular payments. He would occasionally give her a little bit of money. Nothing close to what he had been ordered to do.”

But even then, Sherra said she and Lorenzen had an understanding, and outside of court, he was giving her money for the children.

“My child support was off record. It didn’t go through the state. Whatever he was gonna give me, it came directly to me. Whatever he was gonna give me in alimony, it came directly to me. They don’t have a record of what he did and did not pay.”

The money problems would only worsen after the divorce. Lorenzen fell behind on paying child support and maintenance (alimony).

The Wrights Divorce—Child Support and Alimony

At the time, Lorenzen Wright’s NBA career was winding down, and he left the league after the 2008-09 season. The Parenting Plan references a “contract pending,” but a review of the court file suggests no adjustment was ever made after Wright’s career ended and his income dwindled. He acted as his own attorney in the case.

A Permanent Parenting Plan relied on a 2009 temporary child support order requiring Lorenzen Wright to pay $16,650 monthly in support and another $10,000 a month in alimony to Sherra—$319,800 a year. That plan required Lorenzen to maintain a $1 million life insurance policy for the benefit of his sons and daughters to pay their support in the event of his death.

The Insurance Policy

All State Insurance honored the $1 million policy, paying $1,033,793 in September 2011, 14 months after Lorenzen Wright’s still-unsolved murder. Sherra Wright’s spending took off a month later, court records show, with furniture purchases, various renovations on investment property in Arkansas, and children’s expenses, including clothing, food, and school expenses.

Sherra Wright’s handling of money proved alarming. Ten months later, she’d spent $973,000. Concerns over Sherra’s spending stem from the Permanent Parenting Plan filed in January 2010 in connection with her divorce.

The insurance policy was not for Sherra Wright’s benefit. It was intended to benefit their six children, with Sherra designated the policy’s administrator on behalf of her children.

In court, Sherra was scrutinized over how she spent the insurance money. Attorney Ruby Wharton questioned why Sherra Robinson—who arrived in court wearing sunglasses, a black dress, and black heels—wrote herself checks and paid taxes, insurance payments and credit-card bills from a trust set up in 2011 for the children, going through more than a million dollars.

By early 2014, almost four years after the murder, Sherra had moved on and remarried. And still, there were no arrests for the murder of Lorenzen Wright. The case grew cold.

Sherra Wright Married a Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy after Lorenzen’s murder. County officials confirmed that Reginald Robinson was a Patrol Officer and had been with the department since 1999. He was employed during the time Lorenzen Wright was murdered. In her urban-fiction novel published in 2015, Sherra wrote: “I must also acknowledge my very loving and brand new husband, Reginald A. Robinson Sr. You have been a Rock! You came and scooped me up. Love you, baby!” There is no indication that Robinson was involved or had any knowledge about Lorenzen Wright’s murder. Apparently, this marriage didn’t last long.

Sherra—now married to a Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy at the time—was often vague, giving estimates of expenses or saying she didn’t recall details or sometimes providing long explanations.

Wharton, the wife of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, told Sherra, “You’re doing a whole lot of talking, and I’m trying to figure out what you’re talking about.”

Sherra admitted that the trust’s Wells Fargo bank account was down to $5.05. However, her attorney, Christopher Donovan, argued that she had more than $950,000 in real estate that belonged to the trust—including the family’s Eads, Tennessee home and an upscale lake front home in Greers Ferry, Arkansas.

Wharton asked: The funds are for the children and their protection?”

Sherra agreed.

Wharton continued, “They’re not yours?”

Sherra cut her eyes and responded, “No, ma’am.”

Among the checks Sherra wrote to herself, she said, two—for $8,000 and $30,000—were for home repairs. She claimed she had to pay cash because her late ex-husband bounced so many checks that it damaged their credit.

Sherra testified, “Over $3 million was in debt before I received my first dime” from Lorenzen Wright’s life insurance policy in 2011.

Under questioning by Wharton, Sherra admitted she wasn’t sure the children had health insurance, and she had not set up college funds.

When asked if she was near bankruptcy, Sherra said she was supposed to meet with an attorney the following week.

Sherra finally estimated that her debt ranged from $1.5 to $1.8 million. She also said she was in the midst of a kitchen renovation at her new home and was driving a new Cadillac. She bought an Escalade with the Wells Fargo account but said she sold it because it was a gas guzzler and put that money back in the trust, though she didn’t have documentation to show that she did. She said she replaced it with a V6-engine Cadillac.

Wharton accused Sherra of trying to maintain a lavish lifestyle she could no longer afford, such as spending $7,800 in money from the trust for a trip for her daughter, whom she said was a super model. She gave her teenage son, Lorenzen Jr., a Lexus, explaining that he needed that and his own credit card since “he was the man of the house at that time,” taking his siblings to get their haircuts and the mall. She later sold the Lexus but said her family currently had six vehicles.

A Breakdown of How Murdered NBA Player Lorenzen Wright’s Ex-Wife Blew $1 Million in 10 Months (Katherine Manning, Atlanta News, July 2019)

Records show Sherra Wright directed much of her spending at her children—a 5,300 square-foot-home acquired in June in East Shelby County is titled in the name of a trust for her four sons and two daughters. In just 10 months, Sherra Wright spent:

  • $339,000 to buy and improve a new house
  • $69,000 on household furniture/furnishings
  • $34,000 on lawyers
  • $32,000 for a Cadillac Escalade
  • $26,000 for a Lexus
  • $11,750 for a trip to New York
  • $7,100 for a deposit on a swimming pool
  • $5,000 for lawn equipment

Despite her spending, Sherra Wright’s report indicated the family remained financially strong, listing nearly $1.4 million in remaining assets on hand, most of it involving the house in East Shelby County and three investment properties in Arkansas.

Herb Wright, Lorenzen’s father, believed Sherra was not making sound choices and was not acting in his grandchildren’s best interest.

That spending, reflected in a filed report in Shelby County Circuit Court, touched off legal battles in two courtrooms for control of what was left in the estate of Lorenzen Wright, who earned more than $55 million in the NBA yet died facing a severely restricted income and mounting debt.

Worried by Sherra Wright’s rapid spending of money that her ex-husband had intended to provide long-term benefit to their children, Herb Wright—Lorenzen’s father and the executor of his late son’s estate—sued Sherra Wright on behalf of his grandchildren. A Tennessee Circuit Court resolved the matter by ordering the creation of a trust intended to benefit the children. Sherra Wright was named the trustee, but with the stipulation that she file with the court regular accountings of money received by the trust and money paid out.

Judge Benham’s October 12 ruling not only appointed a guardian but also steered guardianship of a second pot of money—$184,000 in death benefits paid by the NBA—to Herb Wright for the benefit of the six Wright children. Although Herb Wright will oversee the funds, Judge Benham temporarily froze the assets.

Sherra Wright argued that the decision was improper, in part, because Herb Wright had a history of mismanaging his son’s finances. Court filings recount testimony by Herb Wright in which he reportedly said he had “no particular experience” in financial management and that his involvement in his son’s affairs “had been limited to writing checks and paying bills, at his son’s direction.”

Sherra Wright (October 2015)

Marc Perresquia, Reporter: Sherra was very interested in getting money. 

After her book was published, Sherra agreed to an interview with Kelvin Cowans, a freelance reporter for the Tri-State Defender. It would prove to be a fateful meeting.

Kelvin Cowans: In walks this 5′ 10″ goddess… I just couldn’t forget, you know, how I felt when I saw her; I thought she was beautiful. Her perfume was unfair, you know, and so, that’s how it all started … I had never interviewed a woman and then dated her, never crossed the line.

Kelvin Cowans: Houston was my idea.

James Brown, Reporter: And she was up for it?

Kelvin Cowans: Absolutely. She was going through a divorce, and so she felt like it would be a new start for her and the kids as well, and I was like, “Okay, let’s do it.”

By 2016, six years after the murder of hometown hero Lorenzen Wright, Memphis had all but given up hope that the crime would be solved.

Sherra Robinson Wright v. The Estate of Lorenzen Vern-Gagne Wright et al. (May 2017)

Sherra Wright brought new litigation against Herb Wright. She insisted that the trust, under Herb Wright’s control, owed her money. She claimed that her late husband had failed to make child support and alimony payments and that those amounts ought to be paid out of the trust.

A Tennessee Circuit Court rejected Wright’s petition on account of the legal principle of res judicata, which is a Latin expression that means “a thing decided.” In law, res judicata instructs that once a legal claim has been resolved, it can’t be re-litigated. Here, Sherra Wright and her former father-in-law had resolved the matter in their 2015 settlement. Sherra Wright appealed to the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, but a judge sustained the decision in a ruling in May 2017.

Ms. Wright petitioned the Probate Court to remove Herbert Wright as the executor of Mr. Wright’s estate. These matters were ultimately resolved by way of a confidential settlement agreement. The litigation ensued in February 2016 when Ms. Wright filed a petition in the Circuit Court alleging that her ex-husband had failed to make child support and alimony payments to her before his death. The petition sought to enjoin certain funds held by Mr. Wright’s estate and prayed that Ms. Wright be awarded a judgment for the outstanding support payments allegedly owed to her.

Kelvin Cowans: “I can’t say it didn’t work out because she was an awful person, but there were signs of greed that I wasn’t used to.”

Kelvin Cowans: “…she’s telling me about it and she’s asking me, “What should I do about this money? Should I go after it, should I go to court?” and I said, “No.”  I said, “Leave the money alone … Let them put it in the kids’ trust, they can get it later. We’re doing good.” And she was like, “No, I don’t want Herb to have it.”  I’m like, “It’s… nothing is going to be enough for you.”

The couple left Houston and went their separate ways. Cowans came back home to Memphis and Sherra moved her kids to Riverside, California, where her brother is the pastor of a church.

Operation Rebound

Shelby County Prosecutor Paul Hagerman acknowledged that the case continued to stretch out longer than it needed to after Sherra’s cousin, Jimmie Martin, stepped forward in 2012 because volunteer divers could not find the murder weapon in the lake. It had just rained, and visibility underwater was almost zero. That would change years later when new investigators got onto the case and had an FBI dive team take a look.

Lorenzen Wright, Memphis Grizzlies

In 2012, acting on a tip from Sherra Wright’s cousin, Jimmie Martin, police searched for the murder weapon. He said he knew where the gun was and who killed Lorenzen. However, they needed to authenticate his story. Jimmie Martin gave a statement to police, which led law enforcement to focus on a lake near Walnut, Mississippi. Volunteers with the Holly Springs, Mississippi Fire Department searched the lake for the murder weapon but were unable to see in the water because of the rain. No weapon was found.

Back in Memphis, the rumor mill implicating Sherra Wright was still grinding away. But rumors don’t equal proof, and police director Toney Armstrong’s tenure had come to an end.

As Memphis mourned, months turned into years and the city became obsessed with solving the murder of its favorite son.

Armstrong’s prayers were answered seven years after the murder of Lorenzen Wright on Nov. 9, 2017. Acting on an old tip, Memphis Police went to a lake in Walnut, Mississippi. There, in the murky red clay water, they found a gun believed to be used in the killing.

Although Kelvin Cowans had broken up with Sherra Wright, he thought she would be happy when the gun was found.  But he didn’t get the reaction he expected when he called her to celebrate.

Kelvin Cowans: We got on the phone and I said, “Hey, the police have done this great thing. They found the gun that killed Lorenzen and she wasn’t happy about it at all, and that bothered me. That was when I first started to believe that, you know what, maybe I haven’t been looking at grief, you know, all this time. Maybe I’ve been looking at guilt.”

After finding the gun, the case took an unexpected turn. On December 5, police arrested Billy Ray Turner in a convenience store in Collierville. Billy Ray Turner was then a 47-year-old landscaper. He took care of Sherra Wright’s lawn and was also a deacon at his church. Billy Ray Turner’s bond was set at $15 million.

Dr. Bill Adkins | Lorenzen’s mentor: As far as Mr. Billy Ray, I have never met him, don’t know him. But I do know that Sherra is quite capable of manipulating a man.

Kelvin Cowans: Sherra is the type of person where she can make you go jump off a bridge, get back up, go back up there and jump again, okay.

After Turner’s arrest, Sherra and Cowans spoke by phone again.

Kelvin Cowans: …she was telling me that the media was hounding her for an exclusive about the finding of the gun and the arrest of Billy Ray Turner, and I was like, “Why don’t you do it, you know. It’s unnatural not for you to do it,” you know, and she’s like, “Well, they’re just going … to twist my words.” …I said, “The public wants to hear from you Sherra,” you know … and she just wasn’t with it. Ultimately, it wasn’t up to Sherra Wright.

KCAL NEWS REPORT:  Memphis Police just Announced Lorenzen Wright’s Ex-Wife is Now Charged with Murder. Ten days after Turner’s arrest, Sherra Wright was taken into custody in Riverside, California.

Kelvin Cowans: Just …”How could you? How could you?”

Phil Dotson | Lorenzen’s friend: She was arrested and our worlds were just blown up.

Gayle Rose: …there’s some part of me, to be honest with you, that doesn’t want to believe that, and just can’t, can’t take that in.

Toney Armstrong: The journey has led you right back to the person that was supposed to be as close to him as anybody, and that was his wife. So, it’s easy for somebody to say, “Well, the obvious suspect was right there in front of you the whole time. But look at it in a positive light. …you can basically say that they never gave up. …the investigators that took a part in this investigation should be celebrated, you know, at this point. There’s still a case to be tried in court. 

Sherra Wright’s First Court Appearance

Jimmie Martin’s Involvement in the Murder of Lorenzen Wright

Sherra Wright’s cousin, Jimmie Martin, became a trial witness for the State after signing an immunity agreement in 2012, under which he would not be charged criminally for his role in Lorenzen Wright’s death if he testified truthfully.

Jimmie Martin, Sherra Wright’s Cousin, Testifies in Court

Jimmie Martin testified that because he feared for his safety, he did not come forward to the police until he was convicted in a criminal trial in 2012. After his conviction, Mr. Martin thought he “was more safe in jail to come forward.” Martin identified Billy Ray Turner in a photo array.

Jimmie Martin recalled how Sherra masterminded a plan to kill Lorenzen in Atlanta earlier in 2010, but she failed to execute the plan herself. He testified that Sherra recruited him and the accused killer, Billy Ray Turner, for an initial attempt on the basketball player’s life.

In May 2010, Jimmie Martin lived in Batesville, Mississippi. At that time, Sherra Wright, his first cousin, visited him and told him Lorenzen “needed somebody to take care of his Rottweilers.” Mr. Martin testified that Lorenzen had contacted him previously about training the victim’s dogs. Mr. Martin then went with Ms. Wright to her house in Memphis.

Upon Mr. Martin’s arrival, “the whole subject matter changed” to a discussion about “a ploy to kill the victim.” Mr. Martin knew Ms. Wright had been “going through some things” and was possibly “just talking off the wall,” and he told her, “It’s not the business you want to be in.”

Mr. Martin was unsure why Ms. Wright had tried to involve him in her plans to harm Lorenzen, but he guessed it had to do with “a particular bind” in which he found himself in May 2010. Mr. Martin acknowledged that at that time, he was facing “violent criminal charges,” and Sherra Wright had recommended a lawyer and had paid some of his attorney’s fees.

After Jimmie’s initial “not the business you want to be in” comment, Sherra Wright began a “brainstorming session” in which she discussed “how best to” kill Lorenzen. During this conversation, Billy Ray Turner and “a pregnant lady” were also present. At the time of this conversation, Mr. Martin did not know the woman’s name, but on cross-examination, the defense counsel identified this woman to Mr. Martin as Claudia Robinson. Mr. Martin testified that during the meeting, they discussed catching Lorenzen “somewhere where there ain’t a lot of people.”

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Martin testified, “Everyone went their separate ways.” Jimmie Martin thought Billy Ray and Sherra were “just getting stuff off their chest.” He thought the plot “wasn’t real,” yet neither he nor anyone ever expressed that the murder plot was a bad idea.

Later, in May 2010, Ms. Wright traveled to Batesville again, picked up Jimmie, and drove him to her house. Upon their arrival, Billy Ray and another man unknown to Mr. Martin were present. During the meeting, the group discussed more details of the plot to kill Lorenzen, including the “two or three guns” needed to shoot him. The group also discussed potential locations for the killing, and one potential location was the Atlanta area. According to Mr. Martin, if the victim were to be killed in Atlanta, he would be the person to carry out the act. Mr. Martin did not object to the suggestion for fear of being killed. Jimmie thought Billy Ray also believed this plot to be “crazy.”

After the meeting, Jimmie was given Billy Ray’s car to drive back to Batesville. Mr. Martin described the car as a “gun metal colored Dodge.” While driving back to Mississippi, Mr. Martin received a phone call from Ms. Wright, who told him to “look in the trunk” once he arrived home.

Upon reaching his home, Mr. Martin looked inside the car’s trunk and found guns, marijuana, and about $300 to $500. Mr. Martin recalled that the guns were “a .25, a .38, and a magnum.” Mr. Martin sold the .38.

In June 2010, Ms. Wright called Mr. Martin and instructed him to go to Lorenzen’s Atlanta-area condominium to, as Jimmie understood, “catch the victim in a compromising position and take care of him.” Ms. Wright did not discuss potential payment for this action. However, Mr. Martin did not drive to Atlanta as instructed, although he later told her that he went to Atlanta but could not find him. Ms. Wright became upset upon hearing this response, leading Jimmie to believe that Sherra knew he was lying.

After the June 2010 phone call, Ms. Wright again contacted Mr. Martin, telling him that she had been to Lorenzen’s condominium and left a window unlocked. She and Billy Ray then drove to Jimmie’s residence.

Billy Ray and Jimmie left for Atlanta in Billy Ray’s car. During the drive, they agreed that Lorenzen was unlikely to be at his condominium, which the two men thought was “good news.” When they arrived, the two men each took a gun and headed toward the condominium, where they entered through an unlocked window. They searched the residence and found a man sleeping on a couch. They observed that the man was too short to be Lorenzen, so they left him asleep, climbed out of the same window, and drove back toward Memphis. Mr. Martin said they were relieved that they did not kill Lorenzen. On the drive home, the two men agreed the murder plot was “getting too ridiculous.” Billy Ray drove Jimmie to his home in Mississippi before returning to Memphis.

In late June and early July 2010, Jimmie and Sherra began exchanging Facebook messages in which they wrote in code plans to harm Lorenzen. Generally speaking, they wrote about parties, getting equipment, and making sure there were no kids at the party.

On July 4, 2010, Ms. Wright messaged her cousin Jimmie Martin:

Man, you’re driving me crazy with this party. We keep getting our days and times mixed up. What are you going to do? We got all our end. What else you need ‘cause I can’t find another DJ this late. I want to talk—I want to do it before the 18th ‘cause we got a family reunion and other stuff coming up. Give me a holler back. Let me know something.

Three days later, on July 7, the following exchange occurred:

Mr. Martin: So what’s this—so this what’s up? 300 USD. Left towel in Florida. Had the concert there. You want me to go to party adult theme, but the party has kids? When is it going to be an all-adult party or how to plan around that? Also got to plan around my contacts there then a rental?

Ms. Wright: It’s okay to throw a party outside?

Mr. Martin: All right. Gotcha

Ms. Wright: Kids in and adults out. Let me know what you think.

Mr. Martin: Don’t know. Just concerned about the noise and the neighbors. But have to work it out other—I’ll have to work it out if no other way.

Ms. Wright: Cool . . . love you . . . thank you for everything. . . I owe you.

On July 13, Ms. Wright wrote, “We still on?”

On July 14, the following exchange occurred:

Mr. Martin: Tying up loose ends. Moving studios. Changing off plan. Ya’ artist can’t find any equipment. He can’t trade or sell my big keyboard, but that’s what I’m trying to do. The other two are cool, but I need a nine-inch studio monitor. Don’t want cleaning up—Don’t want people sweat and stuff burning up in the non-A/C joint.”

Ms. Wright: We’re gonna have to rent something to haul all this. Too much hassle cleaning up. Don’t want to be riding dirty. Then the money got to come over our ass.

Ms. Wright: You need money for something? I’ve got two hundred dollars.

Mr. Martin: Try to find them monitors. Does our speakers. Everybody use them. I can’t find them around here. Can’t afford new ones. Let me know. He should be able to help. Then I’ll scoop him and we good.

Jimmie Martin explained the “equipment” meant the guns to be used in the killing, the “party” was the killing itself, and discussion about ensuring no “kids” were present referenced making sure there were no witnesses to the killing. Mr. Martin testified that when he referenced selling or trading his “big keyboard” and acquiring a “nine-inch studio monitor” on Facebook, he was talking about disposing of the .357 magnum Sherra Wright had given him in exchange for a 9 mm firearm, which they thought was better suited for the task. Mr. Martin said that some of his messages to Ms. Wright were written while he was driving in a car, and he dictated the messages to a male passenger. Mr. Martin stated that this male passenger was not Billy Ray.

Jimmie Martin was out on bond during the Lorenzen Wright murder but ended up getting convicted on the second-degree murder charge in 2012.  That’s when he first stepped forward to investigators about his role in Wright’s death. 

The case had gone cold for 7 years with no significant leads until November 9, 2017, when the gun believed to have been used to carry out the killing was pulled from a Mississippi lake.

Operation Rebound: In 2017, after Investigator Browning reviewed Jimmie Martin’s statement, he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which searched the lake and found a 9 mm handgun in a specific area identified by Mr. Martin.

According to Jimmie’s testimony, Sherra said she told Lorenzen she was going to meet someone for money. She lured her ex-husband out. That’s when she and Turner chased Lorenzen, who ran and jumped over the fence like a “deer.” He said that, according to Sherra, both she and Turner fired their guns.

Based on Jimmie Martin’s testimony and other evidence, including phone records, Sherra was allegedly present when Lorenzen was killed. The wooded area where his body was found used to be a place where the couple would have sex.

Sgt. Evans analyzed the cell tower mapping for Jimmie Martin’s cell phone. Mr. Martin’s Facebook Messenger records showed conversations between him and Ms. Wright, who on Facebook was listed as “Sherra Robinson.”

The police obtained Facebook messages sent between June 16 and September 9, 2010, between Ms. Wright and “Jay Martin,” where they discussed “getting a party together,” which Investigator Browning believed was “code for killing Lorenzen Wright.” Phone records from 2010 revealed communications between Billy Ray and Jimmie Martin, as well as contacts between a pay phone in Batesville, Mississippi, and Billy Ray’s phone. The pay phone was near Jimmie Martin’s residence at the time of Lorenzen’s death. Between 10:00 p.m. July 18, 2010, and the morning of July 19, 2010, the only text messages from Ms. Wright’s phone were (1) the message in which Ms. Wright texted Billy Ray about her “commission” and (2) a responsive text of “okay” from Billy Ray to Ms. Wright.

On July 18, 2010, the day before Lorenzen was killed, Ms. Wright contacted Mr. Martin and instructed him to come to Memphis. Mr. Martin then tried to contact Billy Ray to arrange travel to Memphis, calling him several times on both a pay phone and a cellular phone. However, Mr. Martin could not reach him before the morning of July 19.

At 4:56 p.m., there was a thirty-eight-second call from Billy Ray Turner to Mr. Martin that indicated to Sgt. Evans that “it more than likely wasn’t answered.” The next call was at 5:38 p.m. from Mr. Martin to Billy Ray with a duration of one minute and forty-two seconds, which, according to Sgt. Evans “would definitely indicate that there was conversation, based on the length of the call.”

The next call from Mr. Martin to Billy Ray was at 6:14 p.m. and lasted for four minutes and forty-six seconds.

At 11:44 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., Mr. Martin’s phone was traveling near Batesville, Mississippi. At 11:55 p.m., there was another call, still in Batesville.

July 19, 2010, at 12:12 a.m., Mr. Martin’s phone was in Sardis, Mississippi, and called Billy Ray. This was at the exact time that the victim [Lorenzen Wright] called 911.

Mr. Martin acknowledged there were no witnesses to corroborate his whereabouts the night the victim was killed.

A few days after the July 18 call from Ms. Wright, she contacted Mr. Martin again and said she and Billy Ray were coming to Batesville. When they arrived, they retrieved Billy Ray’s car. Mr. Martin noticed they were acting “spooked” and “shaky” and were dodging questions.

At that time, Mr. Martin did not know the victim was dead.

Sometime after Billy Ray and Ms. Wright left, she called Mr. Martin and told him that she was coming to Batesville again. Ms. Wright also asked to speak to Jimmie’s mother about borrowing a metal detector. After obtaining the metal detector, Ms. Wright and Mr. Martin drove back to Memphis. On the drive, Ms. Wright said Lorenzen was dead, and she needed the metal detector to find one of the guns they had lost after the killing.

Ms. Wright and Mr. Martin picked up Billy Ray and proceeded to what Mr. Martin described as “an empty area in east Memphis.” They entered a field with a barbed wire fence, and Billy Ray produced a pair of wire cutters. Ms. Wright explained that Lorenzen had “jumped the fence” during the attack “like a deer,” and she was going to cut the fence because she did not want to “leave anything behind.” The barbed wire fence was cut, and a six-to-eight-foot section of the wire was wrapped in rags. After the fence was cut, they split up. Ms. Wright left in a van, and Billy Ray and Mr. Martin headed to a dump where they left the wire, rags, and wire cutters.

Mr. Martin testified that Ms. Wright told him that on the night of the killing, she and Lorenzen went to the Callis Cut Off Road area to “meet somebody for some money.” Once they arrived at the field that night, Billy Ray showed up, and he and Ms. Wright ambushed the victim, who ran away and jumped the barbed wire fencing. Ms. Wright and Billy Ray chased the victim, firing guns at him. Eventually, Lorenzen fell, and Billy Ray and Sherra caught up to the victim and shot him.

Sometime after visiting the field and cutting the barbed wire fence, Mr. Martin and Billy Ray drove around looking for a place to dispose of one of the guns used in the killing. Eventually, Billy Ray threw the gun into a lake. In 2012, Mr. Martin drew a map that led investigators to the lake. The gun was not recovered until FBI divers found it in 2017. A few days after the gun was tossed into the lake, Sherra Wright told Jimmie Martin that “she found the other gun.”

On July 21, two days after Lorenzen Wright was killed, Ms. Wright wrote to Mr. Martin again:

Ms. Wright: I give up. Nothing is working out. . . . Ugh . . . . Everything us too high including really—including getting the pool up and running. Memphis Pool trying to put a dent in my pockets. I know you done helped me—or done helped, and I done worried you, but I think I’m gonna quit. I’m sick of this party. In the meantime, maybe I will plan for after the family reunion. Please let your artist know I’m serious, but just not ready right now.

At 10:20 a.m., “Mr. Martin traveled from Batesville, Mississippi, up Interstate 55 and around to where Ms. Wright lived in Collierville.”

At 12:10 p.m. “Mr. Martin utilized a tower . . . that would have coverage potentially over Ms. Wright’s house.”

Sergeant Evans testified that on that afternoon, Billy Ray and Jimmie Martin were using “two different carriers, two different cell tower locations, but they were both in the same honeycomb kind of coverage area, and they were both receiving calls or making calls at around twelve, 12:10, in the afternoon on the 21st.”

Jimmie Martin testified about the scheme at Billy Ray Turner’s trial. Martin received immunity in return for testimony that helped convict Turner. He testified that he went with Turner to kill Lorenzen 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 killing.

Kelvin Cowans and Sherra Wright (NBC News, February 2021)

Journalist Kelvin Cowans and Sherra met in January 2015 and were immediately attracted to each other. They moved from Memphis to Houston. Their relationship lasted two years. Kelvin described his relationship with Sherra and recalled the red flags he saw as police continued investigating Lorenzen Wright’s murder.

But, as their relationship evolved, Kelvin wondered if Sherra was involved in Lorenzen’s murder.

Sherra Wright and Kelvin Cowans

Then, in December 2017, one of the guns used to kill Lorenzen was recovered. Kelvin spoke with Sherra about the recovered gun and was startled at her response. He became more suspicious of her. Not long after the gun was recovered, Billy Ray Turner was arrested.

The Whispering Woods of Sherra Wright is available on Amazon [Kindle Edition]

In my seven years as a free-lance journalist for The Tri-State Defender Newspaper, I’d never crossed the line of interviewing a woman and then dating her. But Sherra had a seductive presence, the kind where I knew she was going through a divorce, so I married the possibilities.​ Mentally holding hands, we jumped out into the beautiful sea of love but landed perfectly on some hidden rocks of the shore. A love story that many times took us far away to a relaxing and quiet beach, yet ultimately brought us back to some woods that wouldn’t stop whispering.

In 2016, Jesse Browning, an Investigator with the Memphis Police Department, was part of the renewed investigation into Lorenzen Wright’s death. The Task Force began re-interviewing family, friends, and known associates of Lorenzen.

Claudia Robinson, Sherra Wright’s cousin, looked after Lorenzen and Sherra’s children from 2005 until the time of his death. Ms. Robinson testified, “I was not the official nanny. I was just helping out when I could.” She said she was present at Ms. Wright’s home about five days per week during the summer of 2010, and she was not paid for her work.

Ms. Robinson recalled seeing Billy Ray Turner at Ms. Wright’s home quite often during the summer before the victim’s death. On average, he visited the home a few times per week. She described Billy Ray as Ms. Wright’s yard man, and she acknowledged that there may have been a romantic relationship between them. Ms. Robinson recalled that one time, Ms. Wright and Billy Ray were in the kitchen when Ms. Wright, who Ms. Robinson described as “irate,” said the victim “had a hit on her.” Ms. Robinson responded, “Surely that’s not so. It’s no way you believe that.” Ms. Wright “insisted” that the victim had placed “a hit” on her and told Billy Ray, “It’s him or me. . . . [The victim] has a hit on me. He has to be gone.”

According to Ms. Robinson, Billy Ray did not dissuade Ms. Wright’s talk about the victim’s supposed “hit” on her, but she acknowledged he did not discuss any plans to attack the victim during this conversation. After that conversation, Ms. Robinson gave the children lunch and heard no additional discussion that day between Billy Ray and Ms. Wright concerning Lorenzen.

Ms. Robinson recalled another conversation she overheard at Ms. Wright’s home between Ms. Wright, Billy Ray Turner, and another of Ms. Wright’s cousins, whom Ms. Robinson did not know. She referenced this cousin as “Jay,” but on cross-examination, defense counsel referred to him as “Jimmie.” Ms. Robinson denied speaking to Jimmie at any time. That time, Ms. Wright told the other two men, “I can’t believe he has a hit out on me. He wants me gone.” Ms. Robinson, again, expressed her disbelief over Ms. Wright’s claim. Ms. Wright still maintained her belief that the victim had a “hit” on her and “just kept saying, ‘It has to be him or me.’”

Ms. Robinson also testified that “Jay” told Ms. Wright that she (Ms. Robinson) “was going to be a problem,” to which Ms. Wright replied, “No, she’s not, because she can get offed, too.” Ms. Robinson then left from where she could hear and did not hear anything else between them about the victim. After the second conversation, Ms. Robinson stated, “I kind of distanced myself from being over there.”

Soon after, Ms. Robinson learned that Lorenzen Wright had been killed, and she was scared for her safety, given the earlier conversations between Billy Ray and Ms. Wright. That fear prevented her from contacting the police after Lorenzen’s death.

In late 2016 and early 2017, Ms. Robinson began cooperating with the police investigation into Lorenzen’s murder. At law enforcement’s direction, Ms. Robinson placed several phone calls to Ms. Wright, hoping that she would implicate herself in Lorenzen’s death. But Ms. Wright made no such statements, and Ms. Robinson did not ask her about a potential romantic relationship with Billy Ray. Ms. Robinson also did not tell the police about a potential romantic relationship between the co-defendants or that Billy Ray had made an “agreement” to harm the victim. Ms. Robinson denied being offered $10,000 in “hush money” and denied traveling with Ms. Wright to Batesville, Mississippi, to pick up “Jay”/“Jimmie.” She acknowledged testifying as part of an immunity agreement but denied being part of the conspiracy to harm Lorenzen. Rather, Ms. Robinson testified, “I signed [the immunity agreement] for my protection because I was at a house where a conversation was made, so—that I had nothing to do with it.”

Investigators Began Surveillance of Sherra Wright and Billy Ray Turner

In 2017, after Investigator Browning reviewed Jimmie Martin’s statement, he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which searched the lake and found a 9 mm handgun in a specific area identified by Mr. Martin. Investigators kept the gun’s recovery a secret because, at that time, they were trying to obtain a wiretap. After the wiretap was authorized, MPD issued a press release stating that the 9 mm handgun had been found.

In recorded phone conversations, Ms. Wright sounded “pretty distressed” that the gun was found. Investigator Browning acknowledged that on some calls, Ms. Wright sounded almost suicidal.

She had moved away from the Tennessee area by this time but made an unplanned trip to Memphis. Ms. Wright, who was under surveillance, was reluctant to communicate through her phone but had another woman send text messages to Billy Ray Turner on her behalf.

Investigator Browning stated that there were no large cash deposits made to Billy Ray’s bank account after the victim’s death. The investigator also acknowledged Ms. Wright met with several persons other than Billy Ray when she visited Memphis after the gun was recovered from the lake.

When they found the gun, authorities put both Sherra and Billy Ray under surveillance to see what they did. Sherra Wright, then living in California, became “distraught, despondent, suicidal” and wanted to return to Memphis as soon as possible. She hardly told anyone. This was unplanned, said the prosecutor. In the state’s account, she needed to make contact with someone personally instead of calling. That someone was Turner, Hagerman said.

Lt. Beasley testified that wiretaps were placed on Billy Ray’s and Ms. Wright’s phones after the gun was found in the Mississippi lake. After the media publicized the gun’s recovery, Ms. Wright contacted Billy Ray on another person’s phone after she traveled from California to Memphis. They arranged to meet at Janice Taylor’s house. Memphis police observed the meeting between Ms. Wright and Billy Ray, but because there was no audio surveillance, the police did not know what they discussed.

Another MPD detective testified that on November 12, 2017, he was conducting surveillance on Billy Ray and Ms. Wright. This detective knew, based on information obtained from a wiretap, that they were planning to meet at a particular Shelby County location. The detective and other officers surveilling the co-defendants stayed nearby in unmarked police cars. Billy Ray and Ms. Wright met at the arranged meeting place and were seen walking up and down the street and talking for around 35 minutes. Photographs the detective took of the two as they spoke were introduced into evidence at trial.

Murder Conspiracy—1st Murder Attempt in Georgia

Jimmie Martin recalled how Sherra masterminded a plan to kill Lorenzen in Atlanta earlier in 2010, but she failed to execute the plan herself.

Lorenzen Wright, Atlanta Hawks

He testified that Sherra recruited him and the accused killer, Billy Ray Turner, for an initial attempt on the basketball player’s life.

“We’re not talking about professional hitmen here, are we?” asked Prosecutor Paul Hagerman.

“No sir,” witness Jimmie Martin, who is Lorenzen Wright’s ex-cousin-in-law and an unindicted co-conspirator, answered on the stand.

Sherra had visited Lorenzen in Atlanta. Jimmie Martin said Sherra told them she left a window open at Lorenzen’s condo during her visit. According to Martin, the men, armed with guns, drove over, and they found the window, which led into a game room featuring a pool table, a PlayStation, lounges, seats, and a TV. No one was in the room. Martin testified that they tried to be quiet and drew their guns on entering. They made their way into the living room to find someone sleeping on the couch. Martin said he could not tell who the person was, but it was not Lorenzen because this person was way smaller. They got very close to the sleeping individual but left this person unharmed and exited the condo.

Michael Gipson testified that he was a lifelong friend of Lorenzen Wright. At the time of his death, they were roommates in a condominium in Smyrna, Georgia. They moved into the condominium in April 2010, and Mr. Gipson left after Lorenzen was killed. Mr. Gipson said that if anyone saw a bald man lying on the couch inside the condo, he would be that person. Mr. Gipson testified that in June 2010, Lorenzen told him that Sherra had visited the condo and that he had just missed her. Mr. Gipson later spoke with Ms. Wright, who said she had “checked out” or “scoped out” the area. The witness claimed Ms. Wright told him, “Y’all got a nice little spot.” Mr. Gipson said he never met Mr. Martin.

Prosecutors said Sherra manipulated Billy Ray Turner and her cousin Jimmie Martin into helping her plot, execute, and cover up the murder so she could get insurance money.

Murder Conspiracy—Final Killing in Tennessee

Sherra Wright then conspired with Billy Ray Turner to carry out the plot on her behalf in Memphis weeks later.

Jimmie Martin testified that he did not show up to the actual murder on July 19, 2010, in Tennessee and that Sherra had him come over to the scene after that to help clean up evidence. He claimed he feared for his life during the plot and that both he and Turner agreed that Sherra was “crazy.”

Hours after the shooting, a neighbor of Sherra Wright noticed a perplexing event in her backyard. Sherra and an unidentified male ignited a bonfire. It was a strange occasion to have a bonfire. The temperature in Memphis that summer day reached 93 degrees, and with a dew point of 73, it was also quite muggy.

How Sherra Wright Lured Her Ex-Husband to His Death (A&E)

According to Jimmie’s testimony, Sherra said she told Lorenzen she was going to meet someone for money. She lured her ex-husband out. That’s when she and Turner chased Lorenzen, who ran and jumped over the fence like a “deer.” He said that, according to Sherra, both she and Turner fired their guns.

Based on Jimmie Martin’s testimony and other evidence, including phone records, Sherra was allegedly present when Lorenzen was killed. The wooded area where his body was found used to be a place where the couple would have sex.

“It was their lovers’ lane; it was their getaway,” Good said. “For Wright, it was not out of the ordinary and would not have raised any alarms for him. There is a litany of sexually explicit text messages between the two of them that verifies she was luring him back there.”

Lorenzen Wright and his wife, Sherra Wright

Basketball Star Lorenzen Wright’s Ex-Wife Joined Gunman in Chasing and Murdering the ‘Memphis Hero,’ Prosecutor Says (Alberto Luperon, Law & Crime, March 2022)

Sherra Wright was there when Billy Ray Turner shot and killed her former husband, according to Shelby County Prosecutor Paul Hagerman. She had her own gun and fired it, but she tossed it into the bushes when she became excited and scared.

Tennessee authorities said Sherra Wright got Billy Ray Turner and her cousin Jimmie Martin to help plot, execute, and cover up the murder. However, Martin did not show up when the couple chased Lorenzen Wright around midnight in a remote part of Shelby County.

Sherra Wright | Billy Ray Turner

In his last moments, Lorenzen Wright managed to reach Germantown 911 on his cell phone, but gunshots rang out.

The major complicating factor in the case was that Lorenzen Wright’s body remained in the field for 9 days. Hagerman acknowledged Germantown 911 failed to follow up on the call. His mother reported him missing after three days, and it was Collierville Police who found out about his final, tragic communication with 911.

Hagerman said that if Germantown 911 actually followed up on the call immediately, then police would have quickly found out Lorenzen was last at his ex-wife’s home, they would have found the two guns, and it would not have taken much time to find Martin. According to the Prosecutor, investigators would have found the barbed wire fence with blood on it from one of the killers hopping the fence.

“And that’s how the murder of a Memphis hero, a father, of a son, brother becomes Memphis’ most publicized mystery cold case,” he said. “If only Germantown had done what they should have done, this would have been over by July 25, 2010. Jimmie, Billy, and Sherra would have been charged, but instead, this became one of the longest and most publicized cold cases in Memphis history.”

Had Sherra gone to trial, according to Goods, Jimmie Martin would have testified she admitted to him that she and Turner shot Lorenzen Wright and that she dropped the murder weapon. “That is why they went back to locate the weapon and pick up any shell casings,” Goods said. “There is no direct, absolute evidence that she was one of the shooters other than Jimmie Martin’s statements and the circumstantial facts that placed her there, including her phone records.”

Prosecutor Marion said Sherra knew how to work the criminal justice system to escape life in prison.

Sherra Wright Arrested in California

Sherra was arrested on a fugitive warrant in Riverside County in California. Sherra was arrested during a traffic stop on the 15 Freeway near Hidden Valley Parkway on the Corona-Norco border at about 8 p.m.

Neighbors reported that Wright had lived on a palm-tree-lined block for just a few months. “She would always be on her phone, never seen her drive, never seen her outside her house except for walking every morning up and down the street, pacing, on her cell phone,” Wright’s neighbor said. Two of Sherra and Lorenzen Wright’s children played high school basketball in this California community.

In a May 2017 interview, Sherra said the family had always loved California, even after Lorenzen left Los Angeles.

Sherra Johnson Wright

After the arrest of Sherra Wright in December 2017, the Memphis court of public opinion seemed to come to its own conclusion.

James Brown: Do you think Sherra Wright killed Lorenzen Wright?

Phil Dotson: I hate to say it, but it seems like she did.

Dr. Bill Adkins: I do. … I think Lorenzen was killed for money.

Kelvin Cowans: I believe she did, and that’s hard to say. No one wants to come to a realization that a mother with no criminal background, mother of seven of his children, would be involved in his murder. No one wants to believe that.

When Ms. Wright was arrested in 2017, she had another phone taken from her. A search warrant was prepared, and Sgt. Evans performed a physical extraction of her newer phone. Sergeant Evans stated that he did not find any communication between Ms. Wright and Defendant on the newer phone, but Ms. Wright had conducted internet searches on the phone.

On December 5, 2017, the day the media announced Billy Ray Turner’s arrest, Sherra Wright searched, “Do fingerprints stay on objects that are underwater?” Sergeant Evans noted “she also did various other searches related to the homicide of the victim.”

On December 6, 2017, she searched, “Water washes fingerprints,” “Fingerprints under water,” “Do fingerprints stay on objects that are under water,” “Finger marks on glass and metal surfaces recovered from stagnate water,” and “How long do fingerprints last underwater?” Then she started researching weapons: “Can a weapon have prints after seven years?”

On December 6, 2017, Ms. Wright “continuously searched ‘Billy Turner,’ ‘indictments,’ ‘guns under water.’ Sgt. Evans said, she actually searched this courtroom. She also searched ‘Judge Coffee.’ She searched everybody that was related to this investigation at the time.”

Jimmie Martin’s Facebook Messenger records showed conversations between him and Ms. Wright, who on Facebook was listed as “Sherra Robinson.”

Bond Set for Sherra Wright

$20 Million Bond for Ex-Wife of Slain NBA Player (Memphis Daily News/Associated Press, May 2018)

On Jan. 25, 2018, the real court of Shelby County weighed in. Sherra Wright was extradited from California to Tennessee, where she appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit, arraigned for the murder of her ex-husband.

Sherra Wright in Court

Sherra Wright’s bond was set at $20 million. Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee said his decision to give Sherra Wright such a high bond was partly driven by her bad behavior while being held at a women’s jail on murder and attempted murder charges in her husband’s slaying.

Sherra Wright was arrested in Riverside, California, where she had lived for three years after moving away from Memphis. Her lawyers argued that she had strong ties to the community in asking for a $100,000 bond.

Billy Ray Turner, a church deacon and landscaper in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, and Sherra Wright attended the same church but showed no regard for Lorenzen Wright’s life. Witnesses said Sherra Wright masterminded a plan to have two men kill Lorenzen Wright at his home in Atlanta, but that attempt failed, according to an affidavit read by a prosecutor in a previous court hearing. She and Turner then conspired to kill him in Memphis, authorities have said.

Sherra Wright Pleads Guilty in Lorenzen Wright’s Murder Case—Full Court Appearance (July 25, 2019, ABC24 Memphis, YouTube Video, 25 minutes)

After Sherra Wright entered her plea, the judge allowed Lorenzen Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, to address the court. Marion spoke directly to Sherra Wright, telling her she wanted to see her grandchildren.

Shelby County, Tennessee Criminal Court

On November 10, 2017, a gun was recovered from a lake in Walnut, Mississippi—about a 45-minute drive from Sherra Wright’s former home in Collierville.

Ballistics linked the gun to the bullets fired into Lorenzen Wright. Three weeks later, police in Collierville arrested Billy Ray Turner, a 48-year-old church deacon and landscaper with a criminal record, for the murder of Lorenzen.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The ex-wife of Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder in his shooting death, a surprise development in one of Memphis, Tennessee’s most prominent murder cases. Sherra Wright also pleaded guilty to facilitation of a criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder in a hearing in Shelby County Criminal Court.

Sherra Wright had been scheduled to face a jury in a trial on first-degree murder charges in the death of her ex-husband. She had faced a life sentence if convicted at trial.

During the hearing, Sherra Wright answered questions from the judge in a soft voice. She said she has been taking medication for anxiety and depression.

“This is obviously a violent offense, an offense that has torn apart a family, an offense that’s been highlighted throughout Memphis and the media and everything else,” Hagerman said after the hearing.

Outside the courtroom, Lorenzen’s mother said family members would be attending parole hearings. Marion said she wants Sherra Wright to serve the full 30-year prison sentence. “My son is serving life,” she said.

Wright played for the Memphis Tigers in college and the Memphis Grizzlies during his 13 seasons as a forward and center in the NBA.

Prosecutor Hagerman said the case frustrated law enforcement for years, and the guilty plea was an important step toward healing by Lorenzen Wright’s family and the city.

“Celebration is not the right word,” Hagerman said. “This brings them a little bit closer to some closure.”

At the end of the trial, Judge Coffee called Wright “a sacred son” of Memphis.

Lorenzen Wright, Memphis Grizzlies

Revisiting Details of the Lorenzen Wright Case and Questions That Remain (Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated, July 2019)

During an interview, Fox Sports producer Matt Schlef asked Sherra Wright a straightforward, yes or no question: “Did you have any part in Lorenzen’s murder?”

Instead of answering “no,” Sherra Wright paused and offered a suspiciously evasive and non-responsive remark. “At first,” she replied, “I’m a wife, then I’m a mother, and then thirdly I’m an author. The law enforcement should do what’s best to find out who’s the killer.”

Law enforcement eventually did “find out who’s the killer.” It was Sherra Wright, along with others.

Sherra Wright’s Incarceration

Sherra Wright’s Records Show More than 50 Disciplinary Incidents in Jail

Sherra Wright was incarcerated on January 10, 2018. Her first behavioral issue was noted before she took her plea deal. She was caught passing a note to another inmate and was given a warning. She was cited 7 times that month.

On May 29, guards said she got naked and flooded her cell, pushed the water into the day room, and yelled, “I’m going swimming, y’all.”

On October 5, documents state that she began dancing and yelling disrespectful things to guards during a strip search, saying, “You could have at least thrown me some dollars.” 30 of the 51 reports happened before her mental evaluation.

Three days after that incident, Sherra Wright was deemed mentally competent to stand trial, although she had appeared in a red jump suit to indicate discipline for poor behavior. She would not get an insanity plea.

The incidents slowed after she was deemed mentally fit. However, she had numerous incidents after that for noise level violations and disrespectful behavior until July 8. That was barely 2 weeks before she pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder her ex-husband.

“We were not happy with her plea deal,” Prosecutor Marion said. “How does she only get 30 years when she set up a murder and she pulled the trigger? Everything pointed to her.” 

According to the prosecution, Sherra Wright’s “evil heart” manipulated both her lover Turner and younger cousin Martin to carry out the plot.

Prosecution’s Opening Statement: “Sherra Wright enlisted the help of her cousin, Jimmy Martin. Wright had paid Martin’s bail and paid for his attorney after he was charged with the murder of his girlfriend. The Prosecutor said, “Sherra Wright and Jimmy Martin became a team of killers.”

Lorenzen Wright’s slaying is one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Memphis history. His 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.

A Memphis native, Wright was a 6-foot, 11-inch center who played 13 seasons in the NBA before he retired after the 2008-2009 season.

Lorenzen Wright, Cleveland Cavaliers

Sherra Wright’s Lawsuit Against the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

Sherra Wright Files $12M Lawsuit Against Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (Ryan J. Farrick, Legalreader, April 16, 2021)

Sherra Wright filed a $12 million federal lawsuit against the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Memphis, Tennessee.

Sherra gained regional notoriety after being named as a suspect in the shooting death of her ex-husband, Lorenzen Wright.

While the case was cold for years, investigators eventually identified Sherra Wright as the prime suspect.

Sherra Wright’s Request to Recover Unpaid Child Support and Alimony

Sherra Robinson Wright v. The Estate of Lorenzen Vern-Gagne Wright et al.—In the Court of Appeals of Tennessee—April 2017

As part of the divorce, Mr. Wright was required to maintain a life insurance policy to support the parties’ six children in the event of his death. Less than a year after the divorce, on July 28, 2010, Mr. Wright passed away.

Sherra Wright’s Parole Hearing

On May 11, 2022, a tearful Sherra appeared before the Tennessee Board of Parole seeking an early release after serving 15% of her sentence. She said she was sorry about what happened to her ex-husband and that she didn’t want to see anybody hurt.

Sherra Wright Appears Before the Parole Board (May 11, 2022, ABC24 Memphis, YouTube Video)

A couple of weeks later, Sherra’s request was denied, and her next parole hearing won’t occur until 2027. If she serves her full sentence, she will be 75 when released.

Sherra is housed at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center in Nashville.

Board Member Votes Against Parole for Sherra Wright (FoxSports, May 2022)

Sherra Wright testified at the parole hearing, saying she has done well in classes she is taking from prison and has a support system to help her when she is released. Two of her children gave statements on her behalf. Among those speaking against her early release was Lorenzen Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion. She said Sherra Wright should serve the full 30 years of her sentence.

Lorenzen Wright’s Mother, Deborah Marion, in Court

Lorenzen’s mother said while she is still alive, she plans to attend every one of Sherra’s parole hearings. “I’m going to make sure she serves those 30 years. Until she comes with her real truth, and as long as the blood stays warm in my body, I will be there every time.”

Barrett Rich, the parole board member, praised Sherra Wright for doing well in prison. But he declined to support parole, citing the seriousness of the crime to which she pleaded guilty.

Billy Ray Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted on first-degree murder charges in December 2017, more than 7 years after the killing. She entered a surprise guilty plea on the lesser charge of facilitation of murder, but Turner claimed he was innocent and went to trial. 

Billy Ray Turner’s Trial

Billy Ray Turner Sentenced on Lesser Charges in Slaying of Former NBA Player Lorenzen Wright (ESPN/Associated Press, July 2022)

During Billy Ray Turner’s trial, Prosecutors said Lorenzen’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, masterminded a plan to kill her ex-husband and recruited Turner and her cousin Jimmie Martin to help her.

Sergeant Evans presented evidence based on cell-phone records from Sherra Wright, Billy Ray Turner, and Jimmie Martin.

The records indicated the location of the cell towers used which made it possible to “map out the tower and the side and the base of the tower that was utilized.” Sergeant Evans analyzed Billy Ray’s cell-phone records for July 5, 2010 to August 5, 2010. He stated that he only had call records, not text messages, from Defendant’s phone because he used C-Spire, which only retained records for about two years.

Sergeant Evans testified that between July 5 and August 5 of 2010, Billy Ray spoke on the phone with Ms. Wright 186 times. Between those same dates, Billy Ray spoke on the phone with Jimmie Martin 17 times.

On July 18, 2010, at 8:42 p.m., Billy Ray called Sherra Wright. Sergeant Evans stated that his phone was within the coverage area of a tower that included Ms. Wright’s house, but Sgt. Evans noted that it was impossible to tell, from the records alone, whether the call came from Ms. Wright’s house, her yard, or down the street from her house.

At 8:54 p.m., there was another call between Billy Ray and Ms. Wright using the same tower. Sergeant Evans stated that 9:56 p.m. was the last call Billy Ray made in the Collierville area.

“The next call is going to be at 10:52 p.m., and Defendant [Billy Ray] is going to be utilizing the tower that is within about two-tenths of his house, two-tenths of a mile from his house.” From 10:52 to 11:47 p.m., Defendant was using the tower closest to his home for four phone calls.

Referencing his presentation, he said, “Here we are going to actually show the cell tower maps for those calls that we just looked at. So, when we are looking at cell-phone towers, I’ve highlighted several things. We have our homicide scene. We have Billy Ray’s house. We actually have Ms. Wright’s house.”

On July 18, 2010, at 11:47 p.m., Ms. Wright sent an instant message to Defendant [Billy Ray Turner] that said, “I’m going to need my commission.” Sergeant Evans noted that this text was sent 28 minutes before the victim called 911. At 12:12 a.m. on July 19, “Defendant’s phone was not utilizing that same tower. It changed to a different tower. The tower it’s utilizing is actually in the middle of Windyke Country Club. It’s in the middle of the golf course.”

Sergeant Evans next analyzed Sherra Wright’s records. He stated that he managed to obtain more data from her records because he had her cellular phone, and she used AT&T, which retained its records for a longer period. Sergeant Evans analyzed Sherra Wright’s phone from 2010 and testified that he did a physical extraction, or download, of her phone. He found that “she had deleted all the messages between herself and Defendant [Billy Ray Turner] between July 18, 2010, and July 23, 2010,” but he was able to recover 83 of them.

Next, Sgt. Evans analyzed Lorenzen Wright’s 911 call at 12:12 a.m. on July 19, 2010: “The suspected area of Defendant’s [Billy Ray] cell phone at 12:14 overlays the same area that the victim’s phone was used at 12:12 . . . they’re in the exact same area, coverage area.”

An analysis of Defendant’s home tower and the homicide area tower show that the home tower was used 23% of the time (518 phone calls) between the dates of July 5, 2010 and August 5, 2010. By contrast, the homicide tower was used 3.8% of the time (85 phone calls) between the same dates.

On July 19, 2010, “at 6:00 in the morning, or approximately six hours after the 911 call, Defendant [Billy Ray] makes an outgoing call. He doesn’t call Ms. Wright’s phone. He calls what we termed to as ‘Snoop’s phone,’ or Lorenzen Wright Jr.’s phone” for one minute and twenty-nine seconds.

When asked to analyze calls that were made after the homicide, Sgt. Evans stated he believed Billy Ray Turner “was calling Ms. Wright on the Snoop phone or the Lorenzen Wright Jr. phone.”

The Crime Scene Area

Sergeant Evans analyzed what he called “the cleanup of the crime scene after the homicide” which mapped the cell towers for Jimmie Martin, Billy Ray Turner and Sherra Wright.

At 10:20 a.m. on July 21, 2010, “Mr. Martin traveled from Batesville, Mississippi, up Interstate 55 and around to where Ms. Wright lived in Collierville.”

At 12:10 p.m. “Mr. Martin utilized a tower . . . that would have coverage potentially over Ms. Wright’s house.”

Sergeant Evans testified that on that afternoon, Billy Ray Turner and Jimmie Martin were using “two different carriers, two different cell tower locations, but they were both in the same honeycomb kind of coverage area, and they were both receiving calls or making calls at around twelve, 12:10, in the afternoon on the 21st.”

After deliberations, the jury found Billy Ray Turner guilty as charged on all three counts. The State filed no notice for enhanced punishment on the first degree murder charge. The trial court imposed a life sentence on the murder charge, and twenty-five-year sentences for the Class A felony convictions for attempted first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The trial court ordered the two twenty-five-year sentences to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively to the life sentence. Further, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in this case consecutively to a previously-imposed sixteen-year sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, for an effective total sentence of life plus forty-one years.

Deborah Marion Reacts to Verdict (March 21, 2022, WREG News Channel)

Shelby County Judge Lee Coffee sentenced Billy Ray Turner to 25 years in prison for both the conspiracy and the attempted murder charges. Turner was already serving a 16-year sentence for possessing a weapon as a convicted felon. Turner was found with two guns when he was arrested in 2017 in Lorenzen Wright’s killing, and he pleaded guilty in 2019.

Billy Ray Turner

State of Tennessee v. Billy Ray Turner

Billy Ray Turner was indicted and ultimately convicted for his role in the 2010 killing of the victim in this case, former University of Memphis and professional basketball player, Lorenzen Wright. In December 2017, Defendant and the victim’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, were each indicted for first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and attempted first degree murder.

Court of Appeals—Billy Ray Turner (August 2023)

A Shelby County jury found Defendant, Billy Ray Turner, guilty of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced him to an effective term of life in prison plus forty-one years. On appeal, Defendant contends: (1) the trial court improperly prevented Defendant from impeaching a witness when it excluded a conversation between the witness and the victim’s ex-wife; (2) the trial court improperly allowed the State to ask a witness leading questions; (3) the trial court erred by allowing a speaking objection by the State; (4) Shelby County was not the proper venue for the attempted first degree murder case; and (5) the evidence was insufficient to sustain Defendant’s convictions.

Killing Lorenzen: Billy Breaks His Silence (July 22, 2023, WREG News Channel 3, YouTube Video, 43 minutes)

Billy Ray Turner, the man convicted of killing basketball great Lorenzen Wright, is speaking out from behind bars. A special report from the investigative team at WREG in Memphis. Years after he was convicted in the murder of basketball star Lorenzen Wright, Billy Ray Turner is maintaining his innocence and hoping for an appeal. Plus, updates on Lorenzen’s mother and his ex-wife Sherra.

The Mystery of Lorenzen Wright’s Murder Solved

The mystery surrounding his death baffled investigators for years until a break in the case led to the 2017 arrest of Billy Ray Turner and Lorenzen’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright.

In Remembrance of Lorenzen Wright

Widespread coverage of his disappearance, as well as his status as a popular Memphis figure, led to the prosecution of his murder being highly publicized in Memphis.

Remembering NBA Player Lorenzen Wright

The seven-year investigation into his death was one of the Memphis Police Department’s more high-profile unsolved cases.

Lorenzen Wright’s Murder Mystery Solved

Operation Rebound: Lorenzen Wright’s Murder: How the 7-Year-Old Memphis Cold Case Was Solved

Did Billy Ray Turner Conspire with Sherra Wright to Kill Former NBA Player Lorenzen Wright?