Inside The Ambush Shooting Of NBA Star Lorenzen Wright: ‘We Lost Somebody Special’
The father of six was found dead in a swampy field in Memphis over a week after he made a harrowing call to 911.
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A basketball star who played in the NBA, including for the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Grizzlies, was found fatally shot in a swampy field. It would take over seven years for authorities to untangle the mystery and make arrests in the case.
On July 18, 2010, Lorenzen, a father of six who retired from professional basketball the previous year after a 13-year career as a forward and center, enjoyed a visit with his children at the home of his ex-wife, Sherra Wright, in Collierville, Tennessee, CNN reported.
On an interrupted 911 call Lorenzen made the following day, gunshots can be heard ringing out. His body was found 10 days later in a swampy field in Memphis, and an autopsy determined he had been shot at least 11 times, including in the head and torso.
“When Lorenzen was murdered, the city was in shock, absolutely shocked, because first of all no one ever thought something like this would happen and to one of our heroes,” the victim’s friend, Pastor Bill Adkins, told People.
There were no arrests in the case. Then, over seven years later, in December 2017, authorities arrested and indicted Lorenzen’s ex-wife Sherra as well as Billie Ray Turner, a landscaper she met at church and reportedly had a romantic relationship with.
At trial, prosecutors alleged Sherra concocted a scheme to kill the former basketball player and recruited her cousin, Jimmie Martin, to help carry out the crime. At the time, prosecutors claimed, Martin was accused of killing a girlfriend and Sherra offered to help pay his lawyer fees.
Sherra also got Turner to aid her in the murder plot, Martin testified in exchange for immunity. (He is currently serving time in connection with the case involving his slain girlfriend.)
Martin testified he was out of town when Lorenzen was killed, but he claimed Sherra lured her 34-year-old ex-husband to the field, where she and Turner ambushed and fatally shot the man as he attempted to flee — allegations the defense adamantly denied.
Prosecutors and family claimed Sherra and Turner were motivated, in part, by financial gain. Sherra reportedly received a $1 million payout from her slain husband’s life insurance policy. “That’s what it was about. Money,” said the victim’s mother, Deborah Marion, The Guardian reported.
In July 2019, Sherra Wright, now 52, pleaded guilty to a charge of facilitation to first-degree murder as well as facilitation to commit attempted first-degree murder. As part of a plea deal, she was sentenced to 30 years behind bars, but she will be eligible for parole after serving nine.
“We are not happy. Everyone I have talked to is very disappointed she is going to get off this easy,” Pastor Adkins told People about the plea deal. “If it is true she can get out in eight or nine years, that would be a travesty of justice to me. He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.”
Turner, 52, was convicted on multiple charges, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and conspiracy, according to CNN.
He is serving a sentence of life behind bars.
“He was one of the greatest human beings I have ever known,” Adkins told People about his murdered friend. “He was the guy who would give you the shirt off his back. That is just a fact. We lost a great guy — the kind of guy anybody would be glad to call a friend. Anyone who had known him knows we lost somebody special.”
For more on this case, stream ID’s People Magazine Investigates: “Memphis Blues” on discovery+.
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