The ex-wife of Lorenzen Wright, the former NBA player who was mysteriously found dead in 2010, unexpectedly pleaded guilty this week to planning her former partner’s murder.
Sherra Wright, 48, appeared in a Memphis, Tennessee courtroom on Thursday, where she pleaded guilty to facilitation to commit first-degree murder and facilitation to commit attempted first-degree murder, CNN reports.
Sherra was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and attempted first-degree murder in 2017, seven years after Lorenzen's decomposed body, riddled with at least five gunshot wounds, was found on July 28, 2010, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis reports. Authorities believe that the 34-year-old athlete was killed days earlier, on July 19, when he made a 911 call during which gunshots rang out, according to CNN.
Sherra, who’d previously pleaded not guilty, was given a 30-year sentence after entering her guilty plea, according to CNN. A judge has credited her with having already served 20 months of that sentence, and she will be eligible for parole in nine years, after completing 30 percent of her time, the outlet reports.
Lorenzen was last seen leaving his ex-wife’s home days on July 18, days before his body was found, PEOPLE reports. Sherra told authorities that he left with an unidentified male. He was found in a field 10 days later, and his murder remained largely unsolved until authorities recovered a gun in a Walnut, Mississippi lake in 2017 that they concluded had been used during the killing, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Sherra and Billy R. Turner, a landscaper who went to the same church as Sherra, were both arrested that year in relation to the crime.
Wright’s court appearance this week was unexpected, as her next hearing was not scheduled to take place until September, according to CNN. Her attorney, Juni Ganguli, stated that he and prosecutor Paul Hagerman had been negotiating for a month before reaching an agreement on Wednesday, the outlet reports.
“We have been working towards this for about a month or so. Since we suspected Billy Ray Turner was going to testify against her, our defense was going to be that Sherra recruited Billy to kill Lorenzen because he had beaten Sherra for years,” Ganguli said. He went on to claim that Lorenzen had been beating her so badly that the abuse permanently altered her appearance.
Pastor Bill Adkins, a friend of Lorenzen's, described Sherra’s plea deal as a “travesty of justice” in a statement to PEOPLE.
“We are not happy,” he said. “Everyone I have talked to is very disappointed she is going to get off this easy. If it is true she can get out in eight or nine years that would be a travesty of justice to me. He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.”
Sherra, a mother of six, told the Commercial Appeal on Thursday that she pleaded guilty because of her children.
“I’m just going to say because of my children, I have made this decision, and because of them I’m not going to go into many more details right now, but I’m just going to say everything is not what it seems,” she said.
She also expressed wanting to avoid revealing secrets that would have tainted her former partner’s legacy, the paper reports.
Sherra's co-defendant, Billy Turner, is scheduled to stand trial on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and criminal attempt-first degree murder on September 16, according to another report from the Commercial Appeal.
Ganguli told the outlet Thursday that Sherra will not be testifying against him.
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