UPDATE: Billy Ray Turner was found guilty on all counts. See story here.
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The trial of Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of killing Lorenzen Wright, continued Friday morning.
The trial continued with testimony from Jimmie Martin, who claims Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife Sherra Wright recruited Martin and Billy Ray Turner to kill Lorenzen.
From the witness stand, Martin said he was in Batesville on the night of Lorenzen’s murder. He claimed he tried to contact Turner that night but was unsuccessful. He said he called using his cell phone and then a pay phone.
Martin said he also tried to contact Sherra Wright He said after he failed to speak with them, he thought that day was going to be another “uneventful” day.
Martin said that about a day or two later, Sherra contacted him and told him she and Turner were coming to Batesville to pick up Turner’s car. Martin said they seemed “spooked” and dodged his questions.
Martin claimed that Sherra called him later and asked about a metal detector. She then came to pick him up from Batesville.
Martin said on the way there, Sherra told him that they plan to kill Lorenzen had “gone through”, and that she and Turner had ambushed Lorenzen. Martin said Sherra told him she got Lorenzen to go with her to the field, saying she was meeting somebody for money.
He claimed Sherra told him Lorenzen fell, and she and Turner both shot him.
Martin said they also told him Lorenzen tried to climb a fence during the shooting. He claimed they told him Lorenzen was jumping the fence “like a deer.”
Martin claimed Sherra told him she needed a metal detector because they had lost one of the guns at the scene. The three of them reportedly searched the area for the gun. He said they also cut part of the barbed fence they claimed Lorenzen tried to climb over during the shooting.
He said after that, they went their separate ways. Martin said sometime later, Turner contacted him so that they could dispose of a gun he had wrapped in some rags. He claimed he saw Turner file the serial number off of the gun and throw it into a lake in Mississippi.
Martin claimed Turner told him he was “still shaken from shooting Ren.”
Martin came forward about the murder after he was convicted in a separate case in 2012. Friday morning, Martin claimed it felt safer to come forward then because he “couldn’t be touched” by Turner and Sherra.
Defense attorneys pointed out inconsistencies in Martin’s statements, comparing Martin’s statements from 2017 to Thursday’s testimony.
The defense stated that Martin has changed and left out details across three separate interviews with law enforcement. One exampled included Martin’s statement on whether he entered Lorenzen’s condo during one of the previous murder attempts.
Defense attorney John Keith Perry played clips from Martin’s interviews in 2012 and 2017, during which Martin gave a different account of Lorenzen’s murder. In the clip of an interview from 2012, Martin can be heard claiming that Sherra told him Billy was the only one who chased and shot Lorenzen.
Perry said that Martin has given “varying” statements on what he was doing the night of Lorenzen’s murder. Perry claimed that no one has corroborated Martin’s alibi for the night Lorenzen was killed.
Judge Lee Coffee sustained an objection to Perry’s statement, saying Perry was asking Martin to be a “mind reader” and that he wouldn’t be able to answer to what others said about him.
During a brief cross examination, Prosecutor Paul Hagerman countered by pointing out the consistencies in Martin’s statements, including knowledge of Turner’s possible involvement and trips he took to Atlanta and the crime scene.
Detective Nino Frias with Memphis Police Department’s homicide unit took the stand afterwards. Frias described the process of interviewing Turner immediately after his arrest in 2017.
Frias testified that Turner admitted to have an intimate relationship with Sherra but denied having any involvement in Lorenzen’s murder.
Frias said Turner initially denied knowing Martin before identifying him on a line-up sheet. He claimed Turner looked nervous when he was shown a picture of the murder weapon.
Frias said Turner told him he hadn’t seen Sherra in two weeks, but Memphis Police discovered a text message from Sherra to Turner asking to meet at an acquaintance’s house after Lorenzen’s death. Frias said Memphis Police surveilled that meeting.
Frias claimed Turner denied having in part taking a trip to Atlanta with Martin and claimed he was going to visit family members. Frias said Turner ended the interview shortly after that.
The defense countered that what the detective is saying about Turner’s demeanor is his opinion, since there is no video of the questioning.
Lt. Brian Beasley with Memphis Police testified that he received a call in June of 2018 stating that Turner’s cousin had possession of Turner’s car and was going to scrap it.
Beasley said detectives found the car in a rural area outside of Collierville. The car had reportedly been “dragged” out of the woods by Turner’s cousin.
According to Beasley, detectives a wire cutters and 17 shotgun shells in the truck of the car.
Beasley confirmed the wire cutters were tested to see if they were the ones Martin claimed were used to cut the barbed wire fence, but the results were inconclusive.
Beasley testified that Sherra took a sudden trip to Memphis from California after news broke that the murder had been found. Beasley said Sherra sent Turner a text from another woman’s phone telling him she wanted to see him, and they met at a friend’s house.