Defense challenges witness in Lorenzen Wright murder trial

Mar 18, 2022, 12:06 AM | Updated: 12:08 pm
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Lorenzen Wright poses at the team's...

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Lorenzen Wright poses at the team's NBA basketball media day in Independence, Ohio. Billy Ray Turner is charged with conspiring with Sherra Wright to killer her ex-husband, retired NBA player Lorenzen Wright, whose body was found in a swampy field Memphis in 2010. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A defense attorney for a man charged with fatally shooting former NBA player Lorenzen Wright attempted to poke holes Friday in the testimony of a convicted killer who said Wright’s ex-wife gave him details about the slaying.

Jimmie Martin has provided key testimony in the trial of Billy Ray Turner, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder in the death of Wright, a Memphis native who played 13 seasons in the NBA before he retired after the 2008-2009 season.

Prosecutors allege Turner and Martin were asked by Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright, to kill him in Atlanta, then Memphis, in 2010. At the time, Martin was facing charges of killing his girlfriend. Martin was convicted and is currently serving prison time in that case. He has received immunity from prosecution in the Wright case.

Martin is Sherra Wright’s cousin. Turner is a gardener who knew Sherra Wright from church and, according to prosecutors, had a secret romantic relationship with her.

Martin testified Thursday that Sherra Wright recruited him and Turner to kill Lorenzen Wright, whose decomposing body was found riddled with bullet wounds in a swampy field in east Memphis on July 28, 2010. The 34-year-old father of six had been missing for days before his body was discovered.

Wright’s slaying is one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Memphis history.

Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted in 2017. She entered a surprise guilty plea to facilitation of murder in July 2019 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Martin testified Thursday that he and Turner met with Sherra Wright to plan the killing and went to Lorenzen Wright’s condominium in Atlanta to shoot him, with an understanding that he would get paid.

Armed with handguns, Turner and Martin went to the Atlanta condo, entered through a window and found someone sleeping on the couch in the living room — but it was not Lorenzen Wright, Martin testified. Turner and Martin returned home without killing anyone.

Back on the witness stand Friday, Martin told prosecutor Paul Hagerman that he was in Batesville, Mississippi, at the time of the July 19, 2010, shooting. Martin said he went to the field with Sherra Wright some days after the shooting, and she essentially confessed.

Sherra Wright said she lured her ex-husband to the field by telling him that she was going to meet someone there to get some money, Martin testified. According to Martin, she said that she and Turner chased Lorenzen Wright, who jumped a fence before they shot him in the field.

“How did you feel about that?” Hagerman said.

“Terrible,” Martin replied.

Martin also said Turner and Wright got rid of evidence from the shooting scene and he went with Turner to dispose of the murder weapon by dumping it in a north Mississippi lake. Martin said he told detectives in 2012 where the gun was located. It was later found by FBI divers.

In his opening statement Tuesday, defense attorney John Keith Perry questioned Martin’s credibility, saying the information he gave investigators was a farce and full of lies.

On cross-examination Friday, Perry challenged several aspects of the Martin’s story, including details about meetings with Sherra Wright, his activities on the night of the shooting and conversations with Turner on the drive to Atlanta.

Perry questioned Martin about whether he actually entered Lorenzen Wright’s condo with a gun or if Turner was the only one who went inside. Perry said Martin had previously told detectives in three interviews that he didn’t have a gun and waited outside.

But Perry noted that Martin testified Thursday that he did go inside with Turner, with weapons drawn.

“Out of the three prior statements, you never said that, correct?” Perry asked Martin.

Martin hesitated, then said, “Yes sir.”

A motive for the slaying was not clear, though Hagerman said in his opening statement that the killers were driven by jealousy and greed. Hagerman also mentioned $2 million, though it was not immediately clear what that meant.

Sherra Wright did receive $1 million from her ex-husband’s life insurance policy and settled a court dispute in 2014 over how she spent the insurance money meant to benefit their six children, The Commercial Appeal has reported.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Bryson DeChambeau looks at his club after hitting his tee shot on the fourth hole during the final ...
Associated Press

3 tied for lead after 1st round of LIV Golf in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Richard Bland, Branden Grace and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra upstaged their more-illustrious opponents on Friday to shoot 7-under 65s and share the lead after the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Bangkok. Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter were a stroke behind while Kim Sihwan, Brooks Koepka and Morgan Jediah were among those two […]
1 day ago
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico powers his car during first practice session for the Japanes...
Associated Press

Verstappen set to win a second straight F1 season title

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc knows it. So does anyone following Formula One; no calculators needed. Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen is set to win his second straight drivers’ title, and it’s likely to come on Sunday with rain predicted for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Friday’s two practice sessions were run in […]
1 day ago
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II (25) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) celebrate after ...
Associated Press

Colts grind out 12-9 win over Broncos in injury-filled game

DENVER (AP) — Stephon Gilmore batted away Russell Wilson’s pass to Courtland Sutton in the end zone on fourth-and-1 from the 5 to give the Indianapolis Colts a 12-9 overtime victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Gilmore also intercepted Wilson’s pass in the fourth quarter to help set up Chase McLauglin’s tying field […]
1 day ago
Fans of Gimnasia de La Plata choke on tear gas during a local tournament match between Gimnasia de ...
Associated Press

Police, fans clash outside Argentine soccer match; 1 dead

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — At least one person died while police clashed with soccer fans trying to push into an Argentine league match Thursday night, and the referee stopped the game as clouds of tear gas spread inside the stadium. Authorities and witnesses said fans of the home team, Gimnasia y Esgrima, struggled to […]
1 day ago
Tom Hoge tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Shriners Children's Open golf tour...
Associated Press

Tom Hoge rides a pair of eagles to 63, Las Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tom Hoge wanted to be sure to take advantage of pristine conditions Thursday morning in Las Vegas. He did more than he expected, making two eagles on his way to an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead in the Shriners Children’s Open. One of the eagles came with a gap wedge […]
1 day ago
New York Mets' Francisco Lindor speaks during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball...
Associated Press

Star-studded Padres and Mets square off in wild-card round

NEW YORK (AP) — For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the Padres and Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs. Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York — just to name a […]
1 day ago
Defense challenges witness in Lorenzen Wright murder trial