MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Billy Ray Turner, the man convicted and sentenced for killing basketball standout Lorenzen Wright, went back to court Friday with the hope of getting a new trial.
In July, Turner was sentenced to 25 years for conspiracy to commit murder and 25 years for attempted murder. Those sentences will be served concurrently.
Turner’s attorneys said circumstances in the trial should give him another chance at freedom.
Attorney John Keith Perry said the first trial wasn’t fair and Judge Lee Coffee’s demeanor may have hinted to the jury that the judge favored the prosecution.
“Being over disturbed by me that seems to put us in a paradox that the Judge feels a certain way toward this side of the table versus that side of the table,” Perry said.
From the number of rulings on objections to the Judge not allowing recordings to be played in court, Perry laid out why the case should be retried.
“The last memory that they are given when going back to deliberate was regarding the fact that the court felt my behavior was disrespectful to the court during that week,” Perry said. “And just to be clear, it painted me in a light of unprofessionalism”
But the prosecution said the jury decided on the facts
“Mr. Turner had a fair trial that your honor presided over without bias and in accordance with the law,” said prosecutor Paul Hagerman.
Judge Lee Coffee said Perry disrespected the court.
“Anytime Mr. Perry made an objection, I ruled on it. Mr. Perry argued and wanted to continue to argue,” Judge Coffee said.”He knows what he said. He knows what he did. He knows it was disrespectful. He knows that it was ill-tempered.”
In the end, Judge Coffee denied the request for a new trial, setting in place Turner’s appeal and ending his dealings at 201 Poplar.
“A long hard trial. Everybody fought hard and the evidence and the truth prevailed,” Hagerman said.
Billy Turner’s lawyers have 30 days to file an appeal.
Right now, they are determining if Turner can afford representation or if someone else will be appointed to his case.