MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Testimony in the trial of the man charged with killing former Memphis Tigers star and NBA player Lorenzen Wright will begin today with more questions about phone calls and texts.
Billy Ray Turner says he is innocent. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy charges. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Phone calls and text were the centers of attention testimony in Turner’s trial on Wednesday. Expert witnesses took the stand to testify about the murder weapon, Wright’s autopsy, and communications between Turner and Sherra Wright.
Thirteen pages of text messages and three pages of Facebook messages between Sherra Wright and Turner and Sherra Wright and Jimmie Martin were entered into evidence.
A detective testified that the trio participated in phone calls to each other in the days leading up to Lorenzen Wright’s murder.
Later, MPD Sgt. Dennis Evans Jr. testified about the number of calls and using cell phone towers to track locations. Evans testified that both Lorenzen Wright’s and Turner’s cell phones were in the same coverage area the night of Wright’s murder. He said the phones were pinged to towers in the same area at the time before and after the murder.
Investigators collected one month of phone records spanning the time before and after Wright’s murder. Evans broke down the incoming and outgoing calls and messages between Martin, Sherra Wright, and Turner.
The prosecution wrapped Evans’ testimony just after 4 pm
Judge Coffee decided to adjourn for the day because he wants the defense to have all the time they need to cross-examine Sgt. Evans.
Court will resume today at 9:30 am
FOX13 will be inside the courtroom as Billy Ray Turner’s trial continues, and we will bring you continuous coverage throughout the entire trial.
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Stay with FOX13 News for the newest and latest information on this case.
Timeline from Lorenzen’s murder to Turner and Wright’s arrests
This is a murder investigation FOX13 has followed from the very beginning.
Victim Lorenzen Wright was a beloved Memphian and a Booker T Washington graduate who played basketball for two years at The University of Memphis before joining the NBA. He also played five seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Wright was last seen on July 18, 2010. A Germantown dispatcher answered a 911 call from the basketball star’s cell phone the next day. The dispatcher heard 11 gunshots ring out.
The dispatcher didn’t tell her supervisor about the call until 8 days later.
The very next day, Memphis police found Wright’s decomposing body in a field in southeast Memphis.
It took investigators another seven years to find the gun used to kill Wright. In November 2017, FOX13 reported the gun was found in a lake in Tippah County, Mississippi. That’s over 88 miles from where his body was found.
A month later, police made two arrests in the case: Billy Ray Turner and Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright.
Gun used in killing found in Mississippi lake, police say 12/5/2017
Who is Billy Ray Turner?
WATCH: Breakdown of the chain of events that led to Billy Turner’s arrest
Turner lived in a quiet neighborhood, on a dead-end street in Raleigh.
Three sources told FOX13 he worked at the Wright home and did yard work.
Turner was 46 years old when he was arrested on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, and charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the Lorenzen Wright case.
According to the TBI, Turner was arrested and convicted of violent crimes back in the 1990′s.
Collierville police arrested Turner for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping back in 1992. During the same year, police arrested him for selling cocaine and he was vested to four years in prison.
In 1996, police in Collierville arrested him for criminal trespass. Fifteen years later, police picked him up on minor traffic violations.
Turner has openly proclaimed his Christian faith on social media. FOX13 discovered Turner was a deacon at Mount Olive Number One Baptist Church, a church attended by Lorenzen Wright and his ex-wife.
The connection between Lorenzen Wright and alleged killer Billy Turner 12/6/2017
Who is Billy Turner? Suspect accused in Lorenzen Wright murder 4/6/2018
Building the Case
The seven-year investigation into Lorenzen Wright’s murder was one of the Memphis Police Department’s most high-profile unsolved cases.
Almost a month after the gun believed to have been used in Wright’s murder was found in a Mississippi lake, Turner was charged with first-degree murder on December 5, 2017. Sherra Wright was arrested in California in connection with the murder ten days later on December 15, 2017. She was originally indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, criminal attempted first-degree murder, and first-degree murder.
In April of 2018, indictment documents detailed the claims against Sherra and Turner. The indictment alleges they tried to kill Wright multiple times. Sherra’s bond was set at $20M. Turner was given a $15M bond.
During Turner’s hearing, the public learned bombshell information regarding the alleged murder plot. A statement provided by an informant, Jimmie Martin, was read. Martin was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend in 2012 and was serving 20 years in prison. He is also Sherra Wright’s cousin.
Martin claimed to be the third co-conspirator in the murder. Prosecutors said that Martin flipped on Sherra and Turner and told homicide detectives he had information related to Lorenzen’s killing. In the statement, Martin detailed the alleged murder plot — including a failed attempt in Atlanta, how Sherra got Lorenzen back to Memphis, clean-up of the crime scene and more.
In May of 2019, it was decided that Sherra and Turner would face a jury of their peers in Shelby County.
In July of 2019, Sherra took a deal and pleaded guilty to Facilitation of Murder in the First Degree and is serving up to a 30-year sentence.
It is unknown if she will be called as a witness in Turner’s case.
Initially, Turner’s trial date was set for September 2019. It was reset so his attorney could look over new evidence.
The new trial date was slated for October 2020 but did not happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lorenzen’s mom visits lake where gun was found 12/6/2017
‘How could you have murdered my son?’ Lorenzen Wright’s mom berates murder suspect in court 12/7/2017
Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife Sherra charged with his murder 12/22/2017
Sherra Wright and Billy Turner tried to kill Lorenzen multiple times, documents say 4/6/2018
Detectives seize Turner’s old car, believe it was used the night of the murder 5/6/2018
Sherra Wright’s bond set at $20 million 5/20/2018
Sherra Wright’s cousin details murder plot in bombshell statement, $15M bond for Turner 5/12/2018
Sherra Wright’s attorneys removed from case, say they can no longer represent her 6/11/2018
The reason why Sherra Wright was wearing red in court 6/11/2018
Tension between Lorenzen’s mother and Sherra Wright continues as trial date is set 11/29/2018
Judge denies motion to suppress wiretap in Lorenzen Wright murder case 5/30/2019
Trial location won’t be moved for Lorenzen Wright murder trial 5/30/2019
Sherra pleads guilty, sentenced 30 years for her role in murder of Lorenzen Wright 7/25/2019
Memphis high school coach remembers NBA star Lorenzen Wright 7/27/2019
The wait continues for Billy Ray Turner to go to trial 1/15/2020
Sherra Wright pleads guilty for her role in Lorenzen Wright’s murder 1 year ago today 7/25/2020
COVID-19 puts Lorenzen Wright’s mother’s pursuit of justice on hold 8/12/2020
Lorenzen Wright’s mother plans to be at parole hearings 8/14/2020
Billy Ray Turner, man accused of killing Lorenzen Wright, returns to court; trial set to begin Jan. 2022 6/2/2021
New drama involving murder of Lorenzen Wright as twin sons speak out for first time 7/14/2021
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