MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Authorities indicted a man on Tuesday in connection with the murder of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, more than seven years after Wright's bullet-riddled body was decomposed in a suburb of Tennessee.
Billy Turner, 46, was charged with one count of first-degree murder and was being held for a $ 1 million bond, said Shelby District Attorney General Amy Weirich. The court records did not include a lawyer for Turner or a date for a court hearing.
Weirich and Police Director Michael Rallings declined to discuss any details of the arrest or investigation.
Wright's body was found in the suburbs of Memphis on July 28, 2010, 10 days after the disappearance of the 34-year-old man was reported. He was shot several times. The seven-year investigation into his death has been one of the most important unresolved cases of the Memphis Police Department.
Police said last month they had found a gun used in the murder on a lake near Walnut, Mississippi, about 75 miles east of Memphis.
Wright's mother, Deborah Marion, had recently told the media that she was not losing hope as the search for her son's killer dragged on. She told WREG-TV in Memphis on Tuesday that she had been told an arrest had been made. "Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus," he said. "You have to pray for what you want and that's what I did."
Wright, 6-foot-11, played for the Memphis Grizzlies and four. other NBA teams as forward and center in 13 seasons before retiring in 2009. He averaged 8 points per game and more than 6 rebounds per game during his career.
Born and raised in Memphis, he was a fan favorite thanks to his charitable work with young people and his father's participation as a coach in the summer leagues. Former players and friends of the NBA as Anfernee Hardaway and Elliot Perry attended a memorial service Wright in the days after its discovery.
The father of the six was last seen on July 18, 2011, when he was leaving the house of his ex-wife, Sherra Wright. According to an affidavit, Sherra Wright told police she saw him leave his home carrying money and a box of drugs. Before leaving, Sherra Wright said she heard her ex-husband on the phone telling someone he was going to "flip something for $ 110,000," the document said. Sherra Wright said Lorenzen Wright left home in a car with a person he could not identify. The affidavit says that Sherra Wright gave the statements to police in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, where she lives, on July 27, nine days after she left home for the last time.
In the early hours of July 19, a police dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown received a call from Wright's cell phone. The dispatchers recognized that they heard noises like shots before the call fell. The dispatchers said they did not alert the patrol officers or the commanders because they could not confirm that they were coming from their jurisdiction. They did not send a patrol officer or they relayed the information to the Memphis police until days later.
Wright's mother filed a missing person report with the Collierville police on July 22, 2010. Authorities in Collierville were charged with dragging their feet in the days after the report was filed, and an apparent lack of Communication prevented the authorities from linking the 911 call with the report of the missing person. Wright's body was found in a field near a forest in the middle of summer, complicating the investigation because the evidence had probably deteriorated due to the heat. The autopsy report showed that the bullet fragments were lodged in Wright's skull, chest and right forearm. The body was very decomposed and weighed 57 pounds. Wright's game weight was around 225 pounds.