On July 28, 2010, several days after his mother Deborah Marion reported him missing, Lorenzen Wright’s skeletal remains were found in a wooded area near a golf course in Memphis, Tennessee.
A local basketball icon who played for a decade in the National Basketball Association, including five years with his hometown Memphis Grizzlies, Wright was shot twice in the head, twice near his heart and once in his forearm, according to the autopsy report released four months later.
He’d been dead for nine days when police cadaver dogs found Wright’s badly decomposed body.
During the initial homicide investigation, Wright’s ex-wife Sherra Wright told investigators that he left her home in Collierville, Tennessee, to conduct a possible drug deal, and that the last time she saw him, Wright was carrying an unspecified amount of money, according to news reports at the time. Shortly after midnight on July 19, 2010, the night Wright disappeared, a 911 call was made from Wright’s phone. The dispatcher who received the call only heard gunshots and then the line went dead.
The murder of Lorenzen Wright was the subject of an episode of A&E’s Killer Cases on October 22, 2022. [Stream the episode now in the A&E app.]
More than a decade later, Marion and Darren Goods, a lead investigator in Wright’s homicide case, tell A&E True Crime that Sherra concocted a false account about her ex-husband to cover up her leading role in his execution. They claim greed and jealousy fueled Sherra, who spent $1 million in insurance money her children with Wright received after his death.
The couple had been together 13 years when Wright divorced Sherra, five months before his body was found.
“I told the police since day one that she was involved,” Marion says. “She was the only one who benefited from him being dead. She knew he was really done with her and was moving on with his life. She couldn’t stand it.”
Goods, a 35-year Memphis Police veteran who retired in 2021, says Sherra was a person of interest from the moment Wright’s body was found, but it took several years to build a case against her.
“She is a cold-hearted, manipulative killer,” Goods says. “I don’t think there is any doubt that she is cold-blooded and calculating.”
Sherra Wright’s Conspiracy to Kill Lorenzen Wright
On December 15, 2017, Sherra was arrested at her home in Riverside, California, and extradited to Memphis, where she was charged with first-degree murder and premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Tennessee state prosecutors alleged Sherra recruited her cousin Jimmie Martin and her yardman, Billy Ray Turner, with whom she had a sexual relationship, to assassinate Wright. The same year, Turner was charged with first-degree murder for killing Wright. In March 2022, a jury convicted Turner of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison plus 41 years in July of the same year.
Martin, convicted in 2012 for the murder of his girlfriend and sentenced to 20 years, was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Wright case because he provided sworn statements against Sherra and Turner and pointed investigators to a key piece of evidence: the murder weapon.
In November 2017, Memphis Police recovered the firearm used to kill Wright in a lake in Walnut, Mississippi.
Martin told investigators he was with Turner when they disposed of the gun in the lake and was present during a meeting in which he, Sherra and Turner planned Wright’s murder in Memphis, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Martin also said he was involved in a previous attempt to kill the former NBA star in Atlanta that Sherra also planned.
In July 2019, Sherra pleaded guilty to facilitation to commit attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In a phone interview with ESPN two years later, Sherra denied any involvement in Wright’s murder.
“Sherra initiated making the plea deal,” Goods says. “Of course, we wanted to see her do life in prison. Unfortunately, that was not the case.”
Her ex-daughter-in-law still refuses to tell the truth, Marion says. “She is still acting like she didn’t have anything to do with it,” Marion says. “She thinks nobody is going to touch her. That is how she’s lived all of her life.”
How Sherra Wright Lured Her Ex-Husband to His Death
Based on Martin’s testimony and other evidence, including phone records, Sherra was allegedly present when Wright was killed, Goods says. The wooded area where his body was found used to be a place where the couple would have sex.
“It was their lovers’ lane; it was their getaway,” Good says. “For [Wright], it was not out of the ordinary and would not have raised any alarms for him. There is a litany of sexually explicit text messages between the two of them that verifies she was luring him back there.”
Had Sherra gone to trial, according to Goods, Martin would have testified she admitted to him that she and Turner shot Wright, and that she dropped the murder weapon. “That is why they went back to locate the weapon and pick up any shell casings,” Goods says. “There is no direct, absolute evidence that she was one of the shooters other than Jimmie Martin’s statements and the circumstantial facts that placed her there, including her phone records.”
Marion claims Sherra knew how to work the criminal justice system to escape life in prison.
“We were not happy with her plea deal,” Marion says. “How does she only get 30 years when she set up a murder and she pulled the trigger? Everything pointed to her.” By contrast, her accomplice Turner received a life sentence, plus an additional 41 years, for his part in the crime.
Where Is Sherra Wright Today?
Sherra is currently being housed at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center in Nashville.
On May 11, 2022, a tearful Sherra appeared before the Tennessee Board of Parole seeking an early release after serving 15 percent of her sentence. She said she was sorry about what happened to her ex-husband and that she didn’t want to see anybody hurt, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
A couple of weeks later, Sherra’s request was denied and her next parole hearing won’t take place until 2027. If she serves her full sentence, she will be 75 when she’s released.
While she is still alive, Marion says, she plans to attend every one of Sherra’s parole hearings.
“I’m going to make sure she serves those 30 years,” Marion says. “Until she comes with her real truth and as long as the blood stays warm in my body, I will be there every time.”