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Ex-wife of slain former Clippers player arrested in Riverside, charged in his 2010 death

Ex-wife of slain former Clippers player arrested in Riverside, charged in his 2010 death
Clippers power forward Lorenzen Wright grabs a rebound away from Kings forward Chris Webber in the second half at the Sports Arena on March 11, 1999. (Luis Sinco / For The Times)

Authorities say 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 Saturday that Sherra Wright has been charged in the death of her ex-husband, a Memphis native who played for five teams, including the Clippers, over 13 seasons as a forward and center in the NBA.

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Police in Riverside County arrested Sherra Wright on Friday night on a fugitive from justice warrant, online records show.

Wright's decomposing body was found in suburban Memphis on July 28, 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 Dec. 5 in Wright's death. He has pleaded not guilty. Media reports have said that 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, Miss., about 75 miles east of Memphis.

“The weapon was key,” Rallings said.

Rallings said police are looking at other people in the investigation.

Sherra Wright received $1 million 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 (Memphis) Commercial Appeal 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 Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry attended a memorial service for Wright in the days after his body was found.

Sherra Wright spoke with police after her ex-husband's body was found. According to an affidavit, she told police she saw him leave her home carrying money and a box of drugs on July 18, 2010.

Sherra Wright, the ex-wife of slain NBA basketball player Lorenzen Wright, grieves at his casket on Aug. 4, 2010. Authorities said on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, that Sherra Wright had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of her ex-husband.
Sherra Wright, the ex-wife of slain NBA basketball player Lorenzen Wright, grieves at his casket on Aug. 4, 2010. Authorities said on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, that Sherra Wright had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of her ex-husband. (Lance Murphey / Associated Press)

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 in a car with a person she could not identify. The affidavit said she gave the statements to police in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, where she lives, on July 27 — nine days after he left her house for the last time.

In the early morning of July 19, a police dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown received a call from Wright's cellphone. Dispatchers acknowledged that they heard noises like gunshots before the call was dropped.

Dispatchers said they didn't alert patrol officers or commanders because they couldn't confirm it came from their jurisdiction. They didn't 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 July 22, 2010. Authorities in Collierville were accused of dragging their feet in the days after, 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 in the height of summer, complicating the investigation because evidence likely had deteriorated in the heat. An autopsy report showed bullet fragments were lodged in Wright's skull, chest and right forearm.

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