Authorities said on Saturday the ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has been charged with first-degree murder in his death more than seven years ago.
Memphis police director Michael Rallings said Sherra Wright had been charged in the death of her ex-husband, a Memphis native who played for five teams over 13 seasons as a forward and center.
Police in Riverside County, California, arrested Sherra Wright on Friday night on a fugitive from justice warrant, online records showed.
Wright’s decomposing body was found in suburban Memphis on 28 July 2010 – 10 days after the 34-year-old was reported missing. He had been shot multiple times. The seven-year investigation into his death has been one of the Memphis police department’s most high-profile unsolved cases.
Billy R Turner was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in Wright’s death on 5 December. He has pleaded not guilty. Media reports have said Turner, a landscaper, and Sherra Wright attended the same church. Rallings would not discuss the connection between Turner and Wright, but said police were confident they knew each other.
Police said last month that they had found a gun used in the killing in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi, about 75 miles east of Memphis.
“The weapon was key,” Rallings said, adding that police were looking at other people in the investigation.
Sherra Wright received $m from her ex-husband’s life insurance policy. She agreed to a settlement in 2014 in a court dispute over how she spent the insurance money meant to benefit their six children, the Commercial Appeal has reported.
Born and raised in Memphis, Lorenzen Wright was a fan favorite thanks to his charity work with youth and his father’s involvement as a coach in summer leagues. Former NBA players and friends including Anfernee Hardaway and Elliot Perry attended a memorial service for Wright in the days after his body was found.
Sherra Wright spoke to police then. According to an affidavit, she told police she saw Lorenzen Wright leave her home carrying money and a box of drugs on 18 July 2010, as he left her home. Before he left, Sherra Wright said, she overheard her ex-husband on the telephone telling someone that he was going to “flip something for $110,000”, the document said.
Sherra Wright said Lorenzen Wright left her home in a car with a person she could not identify. The affidavit said Sherra Wright gave the statements to police in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, where she lives, on 27 July – nine days after he left her house for the last time.
In the early morning of 19 July, a police dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown received a call from Wright’s cellphone. Dispatchers acknowledged they heard noises like gunshots before the call was dropped.
Dispatchers said they did not alert patrol officers or commanders because they could not confirm the call came from their jurisdiction. They did not send a patrol officer or relay the information to Memphis police until days later.
Wright’s mother filed a missing-person report with Collierville police on 22 July 2010. Authorities in Collierville were accused of dragging their feet in the days after the report was filed, and an apparent lack of communication kept authorities from linking the 911 call to the missing-person report.
Wright’s body was found in a field near some woods at the height of summer, complicating the investigation because evidence had likely deteriorated in the heat. An autopsy report showed bullet fragments were lodged in Wright’s skull, chest and right forearm.