Lorenzen Wright was missing for nine days before he was found dead in a swamp in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee. His ex-wife, Sherra Wright, pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder and co-defendant Billy Ray Turner is awaiting trial in the case.
Sports Illustrated reported that the body of Wright, a former Memphis Grizzlies center, was found riddled with bullets during a search with cadaver dogs July 28, 2010. Sherra Wright and Lorenzen divorced that year, and they were facing financial difficulties as his NBA career came to a close, the Sports Illustrated feature said. The couple had six children together. Wright was 34.
Wright’s disappearance and murder will be featured on the premiere episode of “Infamy: When Fame Turns Deadly” tonight on VH1. The episode airs at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
Lorenzen Wright Was Shot With 9 to 11 Bullets From Two Different Guns & He Called 911 Shouting With Gunshots in the Background
The murder of Lorenzen Wright puzzled investigators for years. On the day of his disappearance, July 18, 2010, he left his home in Atlanta, Georgia to visit his children in Memphis and see his oldest son, Lorenzen Jr., play basketball, according to Sports Illustrated. Shortly after midnight, he called 911 from his cellphone and spoke to a dispatcher in Germantown, Tennessee, the article said. He was unable to give information like a location before he was heard screaming, “Hey, godd***” as multiple gunshots were heard in the background, followed by silence, Sports Illustrated reported.
Investigators determined Wright died within seconds, shot twice in the head, twice near his heart and once in his forearm with a total of nine to 11 bullets from two different guns, the article said. Sports Illustrated reported that Wright’s body had been exposed to “intense heat, rain and animals” and that his 260-pound body had shriveled to 57 pounds by the time it was found. His body was located near the TPC Southwind golf course, the article said.
Law enforcement had early suspicions about Sherra Wright, but did not have enough evidence to charge her, the article said. She quickly spent a $1 million life insurance payout intended for the care of their children on a house, luxury vehicles, vacations and expensive furniture, Sports Illustrated reported. Meanwhile, Wright became more active in her church, Missionary Baptist Church, and married a local sheriff’s deputy, Reginald Robinson, the article said.
Co-Defendant Billy Ray Turner Was a Deacon at the Church Where Sherra Wright Was an Ordained Minister
It was not until late 2017 that any arrests were made in Lorenzen Wright’s murder. In November 2017, investigators found a gun in a lake in Walnut, Mississippi, and ballistics determined it was one of the guns that fired bullets into Wright, according to Sports Illustrated. Turner was arrested three weeks later, the article said, describing him as a deacon at Missionary Baptist Church and a landscaper with a criminal record. Sherra Wright was arrested four days after that.
Today, Wright is 50 and incarcerated at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center, according to her prison records. She pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder and facilitation of a criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder in July 2019 in Shelby County Criminal Court, according to the Associated Press. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and will be eligible for parole after serving 30% of her sentence, or about nine years in prison, the AP reported.
Here is her prison record:
Defense attorney Juni Ganguli told reporters after her hearing that if the case had gone to trial, Wright’s defense would have been that her ex-husband abused her for years. Ganguli said the defense would have been “scorched earth,” according to the Associated Press.
“The beatings were consistent, and it led to her face being disfigured,” Ganguli told reporters in 2019, according to the AP. “She feared that Mr. Wright would never leave her alone, and she recruited Billy Turner to kill Mr. Wright.”
A trial date for Turner was set on June 2, 2021, when a Shelby County Judge said it would begin in January 2022, according to the Associated Press. The trial had been scheduled for October 2020, but it was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the AP article said.
When Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee apologized to Turner for the delay, he said he had been in jail for years and was looking forward to have the opportunity to “prove my innocence and get back to my family,” the AP wrote.