NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife should not be granted early release from a 30-year prison sentence she received after pleading guilty to plotting the retired NBA player’s 2010 slaying, a Tennessee Board of Parole member said Wednesday.
Barrett Rich recommended the board deny parole for Sherra Wright during a hearing at the Nashville prison where she has been held since she pleaded guilty in July 2019 to facilitation of first-degree murder.
The rest of the seven-member board will now review Sherra Wright’s parole case. A final decision will be reached when there are three votes that agree, a process that could take a couple of weeks.
Sherra Wright received the hearing based on her so-called ”safety valve” date, which is the earliest possible release date for some inmates under an executive order regarding prison overcrowding. Tennessee’s Department of Correction said she has received more than three years of credit related to her time served.
Lorenzen Wright’s slaying is one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Memphis history. His decomposing body was found riddled with bullet wounds in a swampy field in east Memphis on July 28, 2010. The 34-year-old father of six had been missing for days before his body was discovered.
A Memphis native, Wright was a 6-foot, 11-inch center who played 13 seasons in the NBA before he retired after the 2008-2009 season.
Billy Ray Turner and Sherra Wright were indicted on first-degree murder charges in December 2017, more than seven years after the killing. She entered a surprise guilty plea on the lesser charge of facilitation of murder, but Turner claimed he was innocent and went to trial. He was convicted in March of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
A third person involved in the plot, Jimmie Martin, testified about the scheme at Turner’s trial. Martin was convicted of a separate murder after Wright’s slaying and is serving prison time in that case. Martin received immunity in return for testimony that helped convict Turner.
A motive for the slaying was not made clear during the trial, though prosecutors said the killers were driven by jealousy and greed. Sherra Wright received $1 million from her ex-husband’s life insurance policy and settled a court dispute in 2014 over how she spent the insurance money meant to benefit their six children.
Sherra Wright testified at the parole hearing, saying she has done well in classes she is taking from prison and has a support system to help her when she is released. Two of her children gave statements on her behalf.
Among those speaking against her early release was Lorenzen Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion. She said Sherra Wright should serve the full 30 years of her sentence.
Rich, the parole board member, praised Sherra Wright for doing well in prison. But he declined to support parole, citing the seriousness of the crime to which she pleaded guilty.