Defendant in killing of ex-NBA player Lorenzen Wright convicted of first-degree murder

A Memphis jury found Billy Ray Turner guilty of first-degree murder on Monday in the 2010 slaying of longtime NBA player Lorenzen Wright.

Turner was also found guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and criminal intent to commit murder. Judge Lee Coffee sentenced Turner to 60 years in prison on the murder charge, ABC 24 in Memphis reports. The jury spent less than three hours in deliberation to reach its verdict after Monday's closing arguments.

Wright starred at the University of Memphis from 1994-96 before joining the NBA as the No. 7 pick in the 1996 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He went on to play 13 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2009.

Lorenzen Wright, seen here in 2001 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, was murdered in 2010 in Memphis. (Sporting News via Getty Images)
Lorenzen Wright, seen here in 2001 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, was murdered in 2010 in Memphis. (Sporting News via Getty Images)

Wright's 2010 murder, investigation

Wright's decomposing body was found in an East Memphis field in July 2010, 10 days after he'd been reported missing. He'd been shot multiple times. The case went cold before new evidence prompted investigators to look into Wright's ex-wife, Sherra Wright, years later. She was arrested in 2017 on multiple charges, including first-degree murder.

She pleaded guilty to facilitation of murder in 2019 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She has since filed and subsequently withdrawn an effort to have her plea overturned. She received a $1 million life insurance settlement 14 months after Wright's death.

Turner was charged with pulling the trigger in Wright's murder in a conspiracy alongside Sherra Wright. Prosecutors argued that Sherra Wright recruited Turner and another man, Jimmie Martin, to help murder Wright. Martin is Sherra Wright's cousin and is serving time for a second-degree murder conviction in the death of his girlfriend.

Martin testified that Sherra Wright told him that she lured Wright to the Memphis field where she and Turner shot him multiple times and left his body. He also testified that he later helped Turner dispose of the murder weapon in a North Mississippi lake. He said that he told detectives where it was located. FBI divers later found it.

Martin received immunity in Wright's death in exchange for his testimony, ABC 24 reports. Turner's defense unsuccessfully attempted to invalidate Martin's testimony at trial.

Per ABC 24, Turner could see his sentenced reduced to 51 years with good behavior, meaning he would be 102 years old for his earliest possible release.