DNA test backlog holding up Sherra Wright murder trial, judge says

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After more than a year behind bars, Sherra Wright and Billy Turner are still months away from being tried for the murder of Sherra's ex- husband, basketball standout Lorenzen Wright.

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee scheduled Billy Ray Turner’s trial for June 17 on charges of being a felon in possession of a gun. Attorneys had asked to try that case first before Turner and Wright face murder charges in the death of Lorenzen Wright.

Prosecutors say Turner was illegally in possession of two guns when he was charged in December 2017 with first-degree murder in Wright’s fatal shooting. Turner is accused of teaming with Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, to kill the retired NBA player in July 2010.

READ: Motions filed by Billy Ray Turner attorney

READ: More motions filed by Billy Ray Turner attorney

READ: Motions filed by Sherra Wright attorney

"Mrs. Wright has always maintained her innocence and wants closure. I think the Wright family wants closure," says Sherra Wright's attorney, Juni Ganguli.

But one thing that has been on hold is DNA testing — results attorneys are waiting to get back from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

In court Friday, Judge Lee Coffee sent a strong message to the TBI, which has faced a huge backlog in DNA testing, that in some cases takes up to 48 weeks to get back.

He doesn't want TBI delays to affect the September trial date for the Wright case.

"Let them know that whatever is pending, testing at TBI that it needs to be done immediately. Tell them that Judge Coffee is ordering that it be done," said Judge Lee Coffee, who is presiding over the case.

"DNA is something they will quote us it takes 10, 11, 12 months so, like the judge says, we need to rush it because we have trial date," prosecutor Paul Hagerman said.

Lorenzen Wright's mother, Deborah Marion,  is just happy the case is moving forward. She wears a picture of her son on a bracelet since she can no longer wear a T-shirt with his picture in court.

"The time is changing. It's coming right along. I am happy. That's the only thing I am happy for, for her to start serving her time," Marion said.

When that trial starts it may still end up being heard by a jury from Memphis. Sherra's attorneys want the jury from Davidson County, saying there is too much hate for her in Memphis to get a fair trial.

The judge advised the attorneys to reconsider that request, saying Memphis juries try murder cases all the time with complete fairness.

"It seems in Memphis that people are particularly hateful toward our client and again they are sympathetic toward the victim in this case," says Laurie Hall, Sherra Wright's attorney.

"I don't care where they go. They can go to China Town. It's gonna be the same verdict," Marion said.

The change of venue motion and several others filed by Sherra Wright's attorneys will be heard May 28.

Sherra's co-defendant Billy Turner will go to trial for gun charges June 17.

Right now, Sherra and Billy Turner's trial for Lorenzen Wright's's murder is still set for September.

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