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Clippers

Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife pleads guilty to facilitating his murder

Clippers forward Lorenzen Wright scrambles for the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors in 1999
Clippers forward Lorenzen Wright scrambles for the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors in 1999. Wright was a first-round pick for the Clippers in 1996.
(John Hayes / Associated Press)

Almost nine years ago, search and rescue dogs found the bullet-riddled remains of former Clippers player Lorenzen Wright in a Memphis field.

The long-running search to solve the killing led to an unscheduled hearing Thursday at the Shelby County Criminal Court in Tennessee, where Wright’s ex-wife pleaded guilty to facilitating his murder.

Sherra Wright, who had been scheduled for trial in September on a first-degree murder charge, received 30 years in state prison as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Accounting for time already served, she will be eligible for parole in about eight years.

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When Judge Lee Coffee queried Wright about the deal with prosecutors, she said little beyond noting she was taking medicine for anxiety and depression. She also asked which rights she would lose as a result of the plea and described her legal team as “wonderful.”

“It is the judgment of this court that you are guilty,” Coffee said in a live stream of the hearing.

Wright, wearing an orange jail shirt and dark pants, showed no emotion after the judge’s words.

A task force of federal marshals and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies arrested Wright in December 2017 as she drove her twin sons home from a high school basketball game. Wright, who had moved to Riverside County earlier that year, was extradited to Tennessee and charged with her ex-husband’s murder.

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Authorities in Tennessee also arrested and charged Billy Ray Turner, who served as a deacon at the Memphis-area church Wright once attended, with first-degree murder. Turner has pleaded not guilty and will go to trial in September.

In a letter last year responding to questions from the Los Angeles Times, Wright wrote: “Ours is a Love Story, not this horror film that has been erected by the Media.”

Lorenzen Wright starred at the University of Memphis before the Clippers selected him with the seventh overall pick in June 1996. He spent 13 years in the NBA, earning more than $55 million.

Lorenzen and Sherra separated in 2009 and divorced in 2010, beset by mounting debt and a tumultuous relationship. As part of the dissolution, he had to maintain a $1-million life insurance policy.

Prosecutors cited the life insurance money as motivation for the killing.

The long-dormant investigation took on new life in June 2017 when an informant led an FBI dive team to a 9-millimeter pistol in a lake next to a landfill in Mississippi. Ballistics testing matched the gun to shell casings found near Lorenzen’s body.

Though authorities wiretapped Sherra Wright’s phone calls in the weeks before her arrest, details about the investigation are sparse because most of the case file is sealed.

After the guilty plea Thursday, the judge invited Lorenzen Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, to address Sherra Wright. Only a few feet separated the women in the courtroom. Marion begged Sherra Wright to allow her six children to visit their grandparents.

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“We love them, and we want to see them,” Marion said.


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