MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 has put a hold on a mother's pursuit of justice.
The long-awaited trial of Billy Ray Turner for the murder of the former University of Memphis and retired NBA star Lorenzen Wright was scheduled for Oct. 26.
It has been delayed indefinitely because of the pandemic.
Deborah Marion told FOX13 during a recent interview the delay makes her stomach sick.
She had been saving her nerves for the trial and whatever verdict the jury reached.
At her home North Memphis home, Marion keeps boxes of photographs of people, places and her son Lorenzen Wright.
“This is the 42,” said Marion as she holds an autographed picture of her late son.
Strangers have given her keepsakes they owned of Lorenzen.
Marion said “this autograph, hat and ticket” a neighbor gave when they found out she was living in the same community.
Marion told FOX13 she is not surprised because her son was beloved by the city of Memphis for his generosity.
“And everybody loved him,” she said. “Everybody did love him not because he was 6′11”. Everybody loved him because he was a nice person.”
July marked 10-years since Wright was found murdered in a field near Hacks Cross.
His mother eagerly awaits the trial of Billy Ray Turner, the man accused of killing her son.
Her former daughter-in-law, Sherra Robinson Wright, pleaded guilty last year to facilitation to commit murder, in other words, helping Turner allegedly to kill her ex-husband.
“Because I want to see Billy Ray,” she said. “I really want to talk to him. I want him to tell me what Sherra did. That’s what I want to know.”
FOX13 asked Marion if she was ready emotionally to hear details about her son’s murder for the first time that is bound to be part of the trial testimony and evidence.
“I’m ready for whatever they got to say,” Marion said.
Her decade quest for answers won't come for several more months because Ray's murder trial, which was scheduled for Oct. 26, has been postponed because of COVID-19.
All jury trials in Shelby County Criminal Court have been put on hold because of the pandemic.
“That is a hindrance for me,” Marion said. “I am ready to move on with this. He is just holding my life up.”
FOX13 asked Marion what does this delay of Turner’s trial mean to her.
“It is sickening to me,” she said. “It really upsets me” because she wants the trial to begin as scheduled despite the pandemic. The courts won’t allow it.”
FOX13 asked Marion if she understood that having a high profile trial, packed with media and others in the courtroom would be a potential health risk?
“Tell them to stay home,” she said. “It’s not concerning you. Stay home. Don’t come. Wait until the newspaper comes out. Watch TV that night. I am coming. That was my child. Ain ‘t nobody gonna fight for him but me.”
For Marion, to get her way, she’d have to convince a judge to throw out his order suspending jury trials that was endorsed by both defense attorneys and the District Attorney after consulting with county and federal health officials.
She will ask.
Marion was not afraid to agitate and irritate police and prosecutors until they arrested the people charged with Wright’s murder, once considered the most publicized and infamous cold cases in Memphis’ recent history.
Defense attorneys told FOX13 privately it is unlikely the judge will overturn his order because of public health concerns.
While she waits, and she has waited years before, Marion will rely on faith and the promise of justice.
“I just pray that the good Lord will keep me here,” Marion said. “So, I can continue on. I am on a journey, and the good Lord knows I’m on a journey. It’s not over. I’ve got to see this through.”
Cox Media Group