MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A trial date has been set for Sherra Wright and Billy Ray Turner, the two people charged with the murder of ex-basketball star Lorenzen Wright.
The last time Wright appeared in court in October, Judge Lee Coffee ruled after Wright’s attorneys requested a mental evaluation be conducted.
The judge said doctors found she is mentally stable and fit to stand trial.
During court on Thursday, Judge Coffee set the trial date for Sept. 16, 2019.
Prosecuting attorney Paul Hagerman told FOX13 the attorneys met earlier in the week to discuss setting a date.
“We felt it was time to go ahead and get a date in stone,” Hagerman said. “It gives all of the attorneys a sort of finish line or goal.”
He then said it could last “about a week or so.
“It’s not going to be a two-day trial. Everybody knows that,” Hagerman said when asked about a possible length of the trial.
The defense team told FOX13 they will not ask for a change of venue. That means residents of Shelby County will be chosen to sit on the jury for the trial.
“We’d rather have jurors from Shelby county than jurors from a much more conservative county,” Ganguli said.
Ganguli shared his client's thoughts on a trial moving forward.
“She’s relieved,” Ganguli said. “She wants this to be over with. She maintains her innocence.”
Ganguli said he has read through the evidence, listened to hours of recorded wiretapping and has his case ready.
During the hearing, Billy Ray Turner's attorney, John Keith Perry, asked that he go to trial for the gun charges he is facing before the murder trial.
That date is expected to be determined at a hearing January 24th. Turner’s attorney, Perry, said he plans to file a motion challenging an earlier trial date.
“You file those motions, (but) you continue to prepare,” Perry said.
During the interview, he referenced the state having a seven-year head start, so the defense is still playing catchup with all the discovery materials.
“We’re still investigating, we’re still interviewing witnesses,” Perry said.
FOX13 will be in court during the hearing, and will bring live coverage throughout the day as updates come in.
Background info on the case:
The judge said he hopes the trial will start in 2019 and be concluded by the end of that year. He expressed gratitude for the patience shown by Deborah Marion, who is Lorenzen's mother.
Marion spoke after the court appearance. She expected the mental evaluation to show Sherra was competent -- saying she did not believe the accused killer is crazy.
Juni Ganguli took over after Sherra’s original team of lawyers – Steve Farese, Jr. and Blake Ballin – told the judge they could no longer represent her and asked to be removed from the case. During that hearing, Sherra was wearing a red jumpsuit – which was indicative of discipline for misbehavior.
The behavior was outlined by Judge Lee Coffee during Sherra’s bond hearing in May. He said she stripped off her clothes in her celled, stuffed them in the toilet and said ‘I am going swimming y’all.’ Jail staff also accused the alleged killer of being abusive and cursing at them, along with other inmates.
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Lorenzen Wright was last seen alive on July 18, 2010 when he left the home of Sherra Wright. The next day, police received a phone call from his cell phone, but it was interrupted by gunfire, according to Shelby County District Attorney's Office.
Wright's body was later discovered on July 28, 2010 in a field near Hacks Cross and Winchester. The 34-year-old was shot multiple times.
Investigators found the alleged murder weapon in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi on November 9, 2017.
Billy Turner was arrested and charged in Wright's murder on Tuesday, December 5.
Sherra Wright was arrested on December 15 at her home in California. She was extradited back to Memphis and charged in the murder. He is being held on a $15 million bond.
Investigators believe the duo tried to kill Lorenzen multiple times. The details were outlined by police during a news conference in December 2017. Her bond is set at $20 million.
More details regarding the alleged murder plot were revealed during Turner’s bond hearing in early May. In a statement read by prosecutors, Sherra’s cousin Jimmy Martin provided step-by-step details for how the killing allegedly unfolded.
Read more stories about the Lorenzen Wright case below.
- Sherra's new life and new love since Lorenzen's death
- Sherra Wright, Billy Turner tried to kill Lorenzen more than once, police say
- Exclusive photo of Sherra's arrest in CA
- Billy Turner's alleged involvement in Lorenzen Wright's murder
- Sherra past stories about Lorenzen murder now being questioned
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