Lorenzen Wright was a star player at the University of Memphis, picked No. 7 in the 1996 NBA draft ahead of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He played 13 seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies, among others. But sometime after midnight on July 19, 2010, he was shot dead in Memphis, and his murder remained unsolved.
Now, Memphis police announced an arrest in Wright’s murder. BillyTurner, 46, of Memphis was arrested on Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder.
The arrest followed the October discovery of what police believe was the murder weapon from a Mississippi lake. That discovery led police to publicize once again the $21,000 reward for information on Wright’s murder.
Wright suffered personal and financial difficulties after his playing career ended in 2009. He had been living in Atlanta, but in July 2010 visited Memphis. At about 10:30 p.m. on July 18, his ex-wife said he left her home in Collierville, a Memphis suburb, with drugs and an unspecified amount of cash. He got into a car with an unidentified individual and was never seen again.
Wright called for help on his cellphone shortly after midnight on July 19, and as many as 11 gunshots can be heard on the tape. Wright had at least five gunshot wounds to his body, two to the head, two to the chest and one to the right forearm. But his body was so badly decomposed by the time it was found that it was impossible to determine whether more shots had hit him.
Police received 22 tips on Wright’s murder, and none contained substantive information. By December 2010, they indicated that the trail had gone cold. Now, however, the investigation appears to have heated up once again.
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