MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP/CBSLA) — The ex-wife of slain former Los Angeles Clippers player Lorenzen Wright pleaded guilty Thursday to facilitation of first-degree murder in his shooting death nine years ago, a surprise development in one of Memphis, Tennessee’s biggest murder cases.
Sherra Wright also pleaded guilty to facilitation of a criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder in a hearing in Shelby County Criminal Court. Judge Lee Coffee sentenced her to 30 years in prison.
Coffee said Sherra Wright would be eligible for parole once she served 30 percent of her sentence, which would be around nine years.
Wright’s body was found riddled with gunshot wounds in a swampy field in suburban Memphis in July 2010. He had been missing for 10 days before his body was found.
Sherra Wright was first arrested in the case on a fugitive from justice warrant during a traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Riverside in December 2017. She and co-defendant Billy Turner were charged in December 2017 with first-degree murder. Turner’s trial remains scheduled for Sept. 16. He has already pleaded guilty to a gun charge related to Lorenzen Wright’s shooting.
Turner, a landscaper in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, and Sherra Wright attended the same church. Witnesses said Sherra Wright masterminded a plan to have two men kill Lorenzen Wright at his home in Atlanta, but that attempt failed, according to an affidavit.
She and Turner then conspired to kill him in Memphis, and they dumped one of the guns used in the shooting in a Mississippi lake, authorities have said. A gun that was allegedly used in the killing was found in the lake weeks before charges were filed in the case.
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. Defense attorney Laurie Hall said she did not think the life insurance money was a motivation for Wright’s killing.
Wright played for the Memphis Tigers in college and was drafted seventh overall by the Clippers in 1996. He went on to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers over 13 NBA seasons.
His death shook his hometown of Memphis, where he was a fan favorite thanks to his charity work with youth and his father’s involvement as a coach in summer leagues.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)