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Who is Billy Ray Turner? Tennessee man found guilty in killing of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright 

Billy Ray Turner has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Lorenzen Wright (Image via Cathy Russon/Twitter and Getty Images)
Billy Ray Turner has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Lorenzen Wright (Image via Cathy Russon/Twitter and Getty Images)

Billy Ray Turner, a 51-year-old man from Tennessee, was convicted of the murder of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright at Shelby County Criminal Court on March 21, 2022.

On Monday, a 12-person jury deliberated for over two hours and found Turner guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and attempted murder. Judge Lee Coffee also sentenced Turner to life imprisonment in relation to the murder.

#BREAKING: Billy Ray Turner is convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright in July 2010. @LawCrimeNetwork https://t.co/i7v8vsjiKN

Turner is also set to be sentenced for other charges at a later date. Judge Coffee referred to Wright as the “sacred son” of Memphis and told his mother Deborah Marion that even though the trial will not bring closure to her loss, it will “celebrate the good” about her son.

Lorenzen Wright was shot to death nearly 12 years ago. He went missing on July 18, 2010 and his body was found nearly 10 days later. In 2017, his ex-wife Sherra Wright-Robinson was charged with conspiring to facilitate the murder and later pled guilty to the charges.

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Sherra reportedly hired her friend and rumored partner Billy Ray Turner as well as her cousin Jimmie Martin to kill Wright. The former has already been sentenced to 30 years in prison.


Everything to know about Billy Ray Turner

Billy Ray Turner worked as a landscaper at the Wright household (Image via April Thompson/Twitter)
Billy Ray Turner worked as a landscaper at the Wright household (Image via April Thompson/Twitter)

Billy Ray Turner is the man found guilty of killing former NBA player Lorenzen Wright. Prior to his conviction, Turner lived in a quiet neighborhood on a dead-end street in Raleigh, Tennessee.

Fox13 reported that he previously worked as a landscaper in the Wright household before being recruited by Lorenzen Wright’s then-wife Sherra to murder her husband. The publication also noted that Turner was a deacon at Mount Olive Number One Baptist Church.

BREAKING:Billy Ray Turner found GUILTY of first degree murder. https://t.co/SkaexQvVck

Turner reportedly met Sherra at the church for the first time before becoming friends. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Turner was convicted on charges of violent crimes even before his role in the Lorenzen Wright murder case.

In 1992, he was arrested by Collierville police for aggravated assault and kidnapping. That same year, he was sentenced to four years in prison for selling cocaine. Billy Ray Turner was also arrested for criminal trespass in 1996. He has also been charged with minor traffic violations in the past.

BREAKING:Billy Ray Turner found GUILTY of first degree murder. https://t.co/SkaexQvVck

More recently, Turner was convicted of killing former NBA player Lorenzen Wright and sentenced to life in prison. Reports suggest he had already pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon as a convicted felon after authorities found him with two guns during his 2017 arrest for Wright’s murder.

Billy Ray Turner is reportedly serving a 16-year prison sentence on a separate gun charge and will be sentenced for other charges in the days to come.


How did Billy Ray Turner murder Lorenzen Wright?

Lorenzen Wright's ex-wife Sherra Wright-Robinson hired Billy Ray Turner to kill the former (Image via Getty Images)
Lorenzen Wright's ex-wife Sherra Wright-Robinson hired Billy Ray Turner to kill the former (Image via Getty Images)

Lorenzen Wright was reported missing by his family on July 22, 2010. His former wife Sherra Wright-Robinson reportedly told authorities that the former NBA player disappeared after leaving his Collierville home on the night of July 18, 2010, with "drugs and an unspecified amount of money."

On July 28, 2010, Wright's decomposing body was found with multiple gunshot wounds near a wooded area on Callis-Cutoff Road west of Hacks Cross Road, Memphis. His tragic death left the basketball world in shock, leading to one of the most highly-publicized murder investigations in Memphis history.

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It was later revealed that a 911 call was from Wright’s phone was received by a dispatch center in Germantown, Tennessee on July 19, 2010, just a day after his disappearance. The dispatcher reportedly heard 11 gunshots through the phone but did not report the incident to her supervisor until eight days later.

The delay in reporting hindered Wright’s missing investigation. The case was later ruled a homicide. Nearly seven years later, Memphis police discovered the gun used in the shooting of Lorenzen Wright inside a lake near Walnut, Mississippi on November 9, 2017.

Billy Ray Turner was finally indicted on first-degree murder charges on December 5, 2017 in relation to the shooting of Lorenzen Wright. Meanwhile, the athlete’s ex-wife Sherra was arrested on December 15, 2017, for her involvement in the murder.

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Prosecutors alleged that Sherra plotted the murder of her ex-husband and hired Billy Ray Turner and her cousin Jimmie Martin to help her with her plans. As per Newsweek, authorities claimed Martin was facing charges for the murder of his girlfriend during Wright’s assassination.

They alleged that Sherra helped his cousin pay part of his legal fees at the time in exchange for his help in Wright’s killing. Martin is currently serving a sentence for second-degree murder in his previous case and has received immunity from prosecution in the Wright’s murder.

Martin testified as a witness in Turner's trial and confirmed that they were recruited to kill Wright. However, he mentioned that he was part of an initial murder plan that could not be carried out at the time.

He said that he visited Wright's condominium in Atlanta along with armed Turner, but they found another individual sleeping on Wright's couch instead of the basketball player. Hence, the pair returned home without committing any offense.

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Martin then told prosecutor Paul Hagerman that he was in Batesville, Mississippi, at the time of the actual shooting, on July 19, 2010. He said Wright was visiting Memphis to meet Sherra after she reportedly convinced him to meet her.

He further alleged that after Wright reached the residence, Sherra and Turner ambushed and chased him, prompting him to run away from the scene before shooting him inside a field.

Martin also claimed that Turner and Wright removed evidence of their crime and Turner dumped the gun in the lake where it was later found. He then mentioned that Sherra confessed to killing Wright in front of him when he met her in Memphis a few days after the shooting.

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While defense attorney John Keith Perry called Martin’s testimony “crazy,” prosecutor Hagerman defended his statements, citing his immunity agreement. Turner and Wright did not testify in the latest trial.

Although the official motive behind the murder remained unclear, prosecutor Hagerman alleged Turner and Sherra’s actions were a result of “jealousy and greed.” Meanwhile, Wright’s mother alleged that the player’s $1 million life insurance policy served as Sherra’s motivation behind the crime.

“Thank you, Lord!” -Deborah Marion, Lorenzen Wright’s mother, yelled these words leaving the courtroom after hearing verdict in Billy Ray Turner’s trial. https://t.co/UPwHPMEpKG

Sherra Wright-Robinson pled guilty to the charge of facilitation of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Lorenzen Wright on July 25, 2019. As mentioned earlier, Billy Ray Turner has also been sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Edited by Sabika
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