Sherra Wright-Robinson, ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in connection to his 2010 death. Time Sports
Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife has been charged with murder in his death following an investigation authorities called Operation Rebound, officials said Saturday in an announcement that came seven years after the former NBA player’s slaying.
Sherra Wright, 46, has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, Memphis police Director Michael Rallings said. Federal marshals arrested her late Friday in California and she was being held in Riverside County.
Authorities said Wright and co-defendant Billy Turner are charged with previously trying to kill Lorenzen Wright.
Outlining the background of the investigation, Memphis police Major Darren Goods, of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, said in late May or early June last year members of the gang unit said they received information about the Lorenzen Wright case. Command staff gave permission to give the case a second look, Goods said.
“We wanted to investigate it as though it had just happened, so that’s what we did,” Goods said. “We followed the evidence. We actually went to the crime scene and walked in Lorenzen’s final steps.”
In naming the investigation, Goods said that in basketball, a rebound gives you a second chance to score a basket and win.
“We have Lorenzen Wright who was a homegrown young man,” Goods said. “He was raised in this city, he went to high school in this city, he played basketball in this city for the University of Memphis … and he came back to play professional basketball in this city and, unfortunately, Mr. Wright lost his life in this city … This will give us a second chance to bring some closure to this case and give this grieving family some relief.”
Goods said they joined forces with the Collierville Police Department and the FBI on the investigation.
In November, police announced that a gun authorities believe to be a weapon used in Lorenzen Wright’s killing had been recovered in a Walnut, Mississippi lake on County Road 302, about 50 miles east of Olive Branch.
“The weapon was key,” Rallings said.
Information led investigators to the lake, and Goods said an elite FBI dive team came in and found the murder weapon. The weapon was taken to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and it was verified as one of the murder weapons, Goods said.
Authorities did not reveal information Saturday about the relationship between Sherra Wright and Turner. The Commercial Appeal previously reported Sherra Wright and Turner attended the same Collierville-area church.
“I think we’re confident that they knew each other so we’re going to leave it at that for right now,” Rallings said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said they are working on the extradition to bring Sherra Wright back to Shelby County as soon as possible.
Sherra Wright has a court date scheduled on Monday in Riverside, California, according to jail records.
The arrest came after the Dec. 5 indictment of Turner in the former basketball player’s death. He is being held without bond and he is due back in court Jan. 29 in Judge Lee Coffee’s court in Memphis. Turner pleaded not guilty.
Turner and Sherra Wright are charged in a three count indictment. Count one charges them with killing Lorenzen Wright with premeditation. They are also charged “in furtherance of the conspiracy” with traveling “to the area of Callis (Cutoff) and Hacks Cross to kill Lorenzen Wright,” according to the indictment. The last count charges them with trying to kill him between April 1, 2010 and July 17, 2010 in an attempt that included meeting and agreeing to kill him, acquiring guns, recruiting an unindicted co-conspirator and on the part of Turner, “traveling to and entering Lorenzen Wright’s home outside of Atlanta, Georgia to commit said criminal offense,” the indictment says.
The body of Lorenzen Wright, 34, was found badly decomposed in late July 2010 near Callis Cutoff Road, and investigators found evidence of shell casings from different calibers at the scene. He apparently called 911 shortly after midnight on July 19, 2010, from a field near TPC Southwind golf course. At least five gunshot wounds were documented in an autopsy.
Wright’s body wasn’t found until days after the 911 call. After Germantown dispatchers got the call, they didn’t notify officers because the location could not be pinpointed. The location was actually in Memphis. Eight days later, investigators were notified and cell towers were used to help locate his body.
Sherra Wright was booked Friday night into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside County, California on a fugitive warrant for murder, Deputy Mike Vasquez said.
“Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! They got her! They got her!’’ Lorenzen Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, said Friday night. “They need to bury her.’’
Marion said she got a call from Memphis police about 10 p.m. Friday and went down with her family to police headquarters.
“It’s just those two right now,’’ Marion said. “But they’re still working on it.’’
Marion said she believes her former daughter-in-law was motivated by money, specifically a $1 million life insurance policy held by Lorenzen Wright.
In a 2015 article in The Commercial Appeal, Sherra Wright explained how she inquired early in the investigation if she was a suspect.
“They was like, no, you know,” she said. “It was just kind of a person of interest. They said that the list was long and wide and they didn’t have any real suspects, if you want to quote that.’’
Wright wrote a book, “Mr. Tell Me Anything” as fiction but said “99.99 percent’’ of the book were true stories from her life with Wright.
Records showed that on Aug. 1, 2010, Memphis police searched her home and found burned pieces of metal and a letter addressed to her and Lorenzen Wright, but law enforcement at that time did not say what the items meant to investigators.
In 2014, Sherra Wright agreed to a confidential settlement in a dispute in Circuit Court over how she spent $1 million in insurance meant to benefit their six children.
Turner, 46, was indicted and arrested Dec. 5 this year on a charge of first-degree premeditated murder in Wright’s death.
The Multi Agency Gang Unit saw Turner leave a house in the 4700 block of Waterfront Oak Drive, which is listed as his residence in an arrest report, get into a vehicle and travel to the Collierville Express Mart on U.S. 72. He was then arrested.
According to the arrest report, witnesses identified him “as the person responsible for the murder.”
Turner has convictions from the 1990s for theft, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, attempted aggravated assault, attempted kidnapping, a cocaine charge and burglary.
On Saturday, Rallings encouraged the public to come forward in other Memphis cases no matter how small or insignificant a tip may seem. He specifically mentioned the killings of 2-year-old Laylah Washington and 10-year-old Richard Jordan and other victims whose cases remained unsolved.
Rallings said the Wright case remains an ongoing investigation.
“If you’re involved in this case, I would encourage you to come forward now before we come get you,” he said.
Surveillance video from Collierville Express Mart shows the arrest of Billy Ray Turner, a suspect in the death of NBA player and Memphis native Lorenzen Wright. Linda Moore/The Commercial Appeal
The Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet contributed to the report.