ShareThis Page

Man charged with 2010 slaying of NBA player Lorenzen Wright

| Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 9:39 p.m.
In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Lorenzen Wright poses at the NBA basketball team's media day in Independence, Ohio.
In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Lorenzen Wright poses at the NBA basketball team's media day in Independence, Ohio.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Authorities charged a man Tuesday in connection with the slaying of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, more than seven years after Wright's bullet-riddled body was found decomposing in a Tennessee suburb.

Billy Turner, 46, was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder, and was being held on $1 million bond, said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. Court records did not list a lawyer for him or a date for a court hearing. Weirich and Police Director Michael Rallings declined to discuss any details of the arrest or investigation.

Wright's body was found in suburban Memphis on July 28, 2010, 10 days after the 34-year-old was reported missing. He was shot multiple times. The seven-year investigation into his death has been one of the Memphis Police Department's most high-profile unsolved cases.

Wright's mother, Deborah Marion, had told news outlets recently that she was not giving up hope as the search for her son's killer dragged on.

She told WREG-TV in Memphis on Tuesday that she had been told an arrest was made.

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” she said. “You gotta pray for what you want and that's what I did.”

Marion said she doesn't know Turner.

Police said last month that they had found a gun used in the killing in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi, about 75 miles east of Memphis.

The 6-foot-11 Wright played for the Memphis Grizzlies and four other NBA teams as a forward and center over 13 seasons before retiring in 2009. He averaged 8 points per game and more than 6 rebounds per game during his career.

Born and raised in Memphis, 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 Hardaway and Elliot Perry attended a memorial service for Wright in the days after his body was found.

The father of six was last seen on July 18, 2010, as he left the home of his ex-wife, Sherra Wright. According to an affidavit, Sherra Wright told police she saw him leave her home carrying money and a box of drugs.

Before he left, Sherra Wright said she overheard her ex-husband on the telephone telling someone that he was going to “flip something for $110,000,” the document said.

Sherra Wright said Lorenzen Wright left her home in a car with a person she could not identify. The affidavit said Sherra Wright gave the statements to police in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, where she lives, on July 27 — nine days after he left her house for the last time.

In the early morning of July 19, a police dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown received a call from Wright's cellphone. Dispatchers acknowledged they heard noises like gunshots before the call was dropped.

Dispatchers said they didn't alert patrol officers or commanders because they couldn't confirm it came from their jurisdiction. They didn't send a patrol officer or relay the information to Memphis police until days later.

Wright's mother filed a missing-person report with Collierville police on July 22, 2010. Authorities in Collierville were accused of dragging their feet in the days after the report was filed, and an apparent lack of communication kept authorities from linking the 911 call to the missing-person report.

Wright's body was found in a field near some woods in the height of summer, complicating the investigation because evidence had likely deteriorated in the heat. An autopsy report showed bullet fragments were lodged in Wright's skull, chest and right forearm.

The corpse was badly decomposed, weighing 57 pounds. Wright's playing weight was around 225 pounds.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.