MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The last person facing charges in the Lorenzen Wright murder case is set to go to trial next week.
Billy Ray Turner has been in jail since 2017, but he maintains his innocence in the killing of the basketball stand-out. After years of delays because of COVID, the discovery of missed evidence and a plea agreement from his co-defendant Sherra Wright, Turner will finally have his day in court.
Turner was the first person arrested for the murder of Wright. Shortly after the gun used to kill Wright was found in a Mississippi lake in November 2017, police honed in on Turner, a local yard man and church deacon. He was arrested at a Collierville convenience store a few weeks later.
Police linked him to Sherra Wright, Lorenzen’s ex wife. Sherra and Billy went to church together. They were even linked together in a relationship.
Sherra was said to have recruited him in to kill Lorenzen. Billy Ray Turner’s attorney has denied his involvement in the basketball player’s murder.
“He has never said that he had a firearm related to killing anyone at all,” said attorney John Keith Perry. “And we stand on that and we are gonna prepare for trial as of it’s something that is coming up.”
The trial is expected to last two weeks, and the jury could be sequestered. Turner’s church members and family are among those who could be called as witnesses.
Turner was a longtime deacon at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Collierville. WREG spoke to some of his church members shortly after his arrest in 2017.
Turner has a lengthy criminal history, with charges of burglary, assault and even kidnapping, including four misdemeanor convictions and five felony convictions.
When he was arrested, he was found to be a felon in possession of a handgun and had to deal with those charges first. He took a plea and got 16 Years.
It isn’t clear if Sherra Wright will be called as a witness in Turner’s case. After pleading to facilitating the murder, she got a 30 year sentence, leaving Turner as the only one to face a trial in the killing.
“I still have a concern, why because that person has the ability to take the stand and be it a lie or be it the truth etc. has the ability to point toward my client and say he did XYZ,” Perry said at the time.
One person who is expected to be front and center at the trial is Lorenzen’s mother Deborah Marion, who has never given up her mission of justice for her son.