Judge denies motion to suppress wiretap in Lorenzen Wright murder case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For the second time in three days, the accused killers of former NBA star Lorenzen Wright will be in court.

Thursday’s hearing for both Sherra Wright and Billy Turner will focus on a motion to exclude the wiretap phone calls on Sherra’s phone as evidence.

Their attorneys said the state didn’t meet their burden to obtain them.

Before the hearing, the judge called a recess to be able to read over the 80-page sealed file regarding the wiretaps.

While addressing the court, the judge wouldn't have been allowed by the previous judge unless there was enough evidence for it.

"There is no reason to second guess," Judge Coffee said. "And even if I did, the Supreme Court would not allow it."

The judge ruled against the motion. The wiretaps will not be excluded.

That other corroborating evidence, prosecutors said, includes Jimmy Martin’s testimony of cut barbed wire near the crime scene.

Martin is Sherra’s cousin, currently serving 20 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend in 2012. He claims to be the third co-conspirator in this murder.

It’s a story that Wright’s attorneys said they do not believe.

“He was supposed to be at the murder but got too busy to attend a murder and therefore he had to go to Batesville. But following the murder, the killers shared details with him about the murder that they just committed. It makes no sense,” said attorney Juni Ganguli.

Martin has not been charged in this case.

The two were in court Tuesday. That’s when FOX13 learned that for the trial, Wright and Turner will face a jury of their peers selected right here in Shelby County.

In 2017, 27 other wiretap orders were authorized in Tennessee, according to data from U.S. courts.

Mississippi did not authorize any wiretapping of oral, wired or electronic communications that year.

FOX13 searched for Arkansas data but could not find any.

In all, zero wiretap applications were denied in 2017.

U.S. courts data showed state judges approved 11 percent more wiretap applications in 2017.

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BACKGROUND INFO ON THE CASE

Judge Lee Coffee said he hopes the trial be concluded by the end of the year. Previously in court, he expressed gratitude for the patience shown by Deborah Marion, who is Lorenzen's mother.

Marion told FOX13 she expected the mental evaluation to show Sherra was competent -- saying she did not believe the accused killer is crazy. The report did determine Sherra was mentally fit to stand trial.

Key witness details murder plot in bombshell statement

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.

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