Sherra Wright Robinson, the ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright and the mother of his six children, now stands accused of shooting the athlete to death in the woods, a homicide that remained unsolved for seven years.
According to the Commercial Appeal, “The ex-wife of slain former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has been arrested in California in his death and charged with conspiracy, first-degree murder and criminal attempt first degree murder.” The investigation was called “Operation Rebound” and also implicated another man, according to authorities, who spoke at a December 16, 2017 news conference in which they revealed Sherra Wright had been arrested in California.
“The attempted murder charge is about a prior attempt to kill Lorenzen Wright, officials confirmed. They said Sherra and Billy Turner previously tried to kill Wright” before he was murdered, reported the Commercial Appeal. Billy Turner was arrested in early December 2017.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lorenzen Wright’s Body Was Found in 2010 After His Family Reported Him Missing
The mystery of the death of the popular young basketball player from Memphis, who rose from city teams to the NBA, had lingered for seven years. In a 2010 article, CBC reported that Wright’s body was discovered in the woods outside Memphis, Tennessee. He had been shot to death, and the case was investigated as a homicide, but it went cold for seven years. After he was missing for four days, Wright’s family had filed a missing person’s report, according to CBC, which added that a 911 call was placed from the area near his body.
When Sports Illustrated asked Sherra Wright if she had anything to do with Lorenzen’s murder, Sherra responded without an overt denial, saying, “At first, I’m a wife, then I’m a mother, and then thirdly, I’m an author. Law enforcement should do what’s best to find out who’s the killer.” She repeated, “I’m a wife, a mother, and an author. I let people do what they’re good at doing, and I’m just going to do what I’m good at doing. They need to spend time and focus and find out what happened to him. We all need to know.”
Complicating the investigation, according to CBC, Wright, who was 34 when he died after being shot at least five times, “was probably carrying a large amount of cash when he disappeared on July 18. A court affidavit obtained by The Associated Press also said Wright had sold two vehicles to a man affiliated with a Memphis drug ring that’s suspected in six deaths.”
2. Sherra Wright Robinson Was Accused of Seeing Lorenzen Wright the Night He Died
In 2010, CBC reported that Sherra Wright had seen her ex-husband the night he died. “He had been dropped off at a restaurant by a woman and later taken to his ex-wife’s house in Collierville, a Memphis suburb,” the news site reported. “The ex-wife, Sherra Wright, told officers that Wright left her home in the middle of the night with someone.”
The last time anyone heard from Lorenzen Wright was on the recording of a chilling 911 call he made from the scene, according to The Washington Post. “God damn,” he said, as gunfire was heard, the Post reported, adding that his body was discovered 10 days later and was riddled with bullets from guns of different calibers.
In 2017, authorities received a big break in the case, the Post reported, when police “in Mississippi found what they suspect to be the murder weapon in a lake about 75 miles southeast of Memphis in Walnut, Mississippi.”
Memphis police Director Michael Rallings said in the December 16 news conference, “The Lorenzen Wright case has stayed in the public eye for many years, and we’ve never given up hope that we would be able to bring the responsible parties to justice… another piece of the puzzle is in place.”
He said investigators worked “tirelessly to get to this point.” Sherra Wright Robinson was taken into custody on the evening of December 15 in Riverside, California by the members of the U.S. Marshal’s service. “We are able to help bring closure to another family affected by senseless violence. As I’ve said before, 95 percent of the solved homicide cases were committed by someone known to the victim, either a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance,” said Rallings.
3. Sherra Wright May Have Known the Co-Defendant in Church & Lorenzen’s Mother Alleges She Was Motivated by Money
Sherra Wright and Billy Turner’s relationship was not detailed by authorities, although they said in the news conference: “We are confident they knew each other.” Authorities would not reveal any information about the relationship between Sherra Wright and Turner. They also haven’t released many details about Sherra Wright’s alleged involvement in the death. NBC News reported that Turner worked as a landscaper.
The Commercial Appeal previously reported that the two attended the same church, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church No. 1 in Collierville,” reported the Commercial Appeal. As for a possible motive, the newspaper reported that Lorenzen’s mother accuses Sherra Wright of being motivated by “a $1 million life insurance policy held by Lorenzen Wright.”
According to NBC News, “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.”
Grio.com alleged, “According to Gail Mathes, Sherra Wright’s divorce lawyer, Sherra divorced Lorenzen months before he was murdered. The ex-wife had not held a job in 17 years and was approximately $3 million in debt.”
The newspaper reported that the previous indictment of Turner shed some details. “Turner and Sherra Wright are accused of trying to kill Lorenzen Wright between April and July 2010 in an attempt that included getting guns, recruiting a co-conspirator and on the part of Turner, travelled to Lorenzen Wright’s home outside of Atlanta to commit the offense,” the newspaper said court documents allege.
The District Attorney also spoke during the news conference and focused on law enforcement’s role in cracking the case. “This really begins the process of justice…there are bits and pieces to this case that have been solved, but the defendants that have been indicted this week…Sherra Wright and Billy Turner… they are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” she said. The mayor also gave a statement praising the multi-agency cooperation. Authorities released almost no details about what happened to Lorenzen Wright or what led them to accuse Sherra.
4. Lorenzen Wright Played in the NBA For More Than a Decade
According to the Washington Post, “Wright, a 6-foot-11 Memphis native was a “University of Memphis standout and 13-year professional player.” He was a right-handed center who played in 778 games, according to Basketball Reference.
You can see his career stats here. Wright stood 6 foot 11 inches tall and weighed 225 pounds. According to CBS Sports, Lorenzen Wright played for the Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Kings and Cavaliers.
The case was named Operation Rebound because Lorenzen Wright was a “homegrown young man,” who was raised in Memphis and played basketball there, authorities said, “And unfortunately Lorenzen Wright lost his life in this city… in basketball, when you make a rebound, it gives you a second chance,” said Memphis Police Major Darren Goods, of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit.
The case was called Operation Rebound because authorities had a “second chance to bring closure to this case.”
5. Sherra Wright’s Facebook Page Is Filled With Selfies & the Gun Helped Lead Police to Her
Police said in the news conference that the murder weapon was a key to their accusations against Sherra Wright, but they were tight-lipped about other details of her alleged involvement.
On Facebook, Sherra Wright posted selfies and photos of her children. In the comment thread under one photo, a friend commented how much one of her sons looked like his father. “Yes mam!!!” Sherra wrote. Some of the photos she shared showed one of her sons playing basketball. She also shared photos of the Obamas.
Her page says that Sherra Wright studied at Tennessee State University, went to Westwood High School, and was also from Memphis, Tennessee.
The gang unit received the big break in the case, authorities said, dating that developed to late May early June 2016. Several members of the gang unit said they had information on Lorenzen Wright, said Memphis Police Major Darren Goods, of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit. They decided to take a second look at the case.
As they looked through the case, they followed the evidence. They went to the crime scene and walked “in Lorenzen’s final steps.”
The lake in Mississippi was searched previously, authorities said, but “all of the evidence and all of the information these guys was receiving was leading us back to this lake….at the end of the day, they found the murder weapon…it was verified that it was one of the murder weapons… we kept it simple. We followed the evidence. And the evidence led us to Billy Turner and Sherra Wright.” Police said it was still an active investigation, however.