Lorenzen Wright’s murder story airs Saturday on CBS’ ‘48 Hours’

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The homicide of basketball star Lorenzen Wright will be featured on the CBS news series “48 Hours” starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, according to Senior Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky.

Zirinsky said the case was always of interest to CBS News Special Correspondent James Brown and that he urged “48 Hours” to investigate the life and death of Wright, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and the University of Memphis and who became a millionaire via the NBA.

Veteran CBS Sports journalist Jim Brown (right) interviews former Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong for “48 Hours.” Armstrong was leading MPD at the time of Wright’s murder in 2010.
(Photo: CBS News/48 Hours)

Wright was a living hometown hero to many in Memphis. That ended in July 2010 during a violent encounter at least partially captured on a call to 9-1-1. The chilling recording captured his last words. A dispatcher then heard repeated gunshots – 11 in all – unaware where it was happening or who was on the other end of the line.

Wright, who spent 13 years in the NBA, including several with the Memphis Grizzlies, was found nine days later in a highly-wooded area.

Brown and “48 Hours” investigate the life and death of Wright, and the hunt to find out what happened that night in “Lorenzen Wright: No Defense.”

The high-profile homicide was a cold case with no leads for seven years. Then “suddenly it (the story) blew up,” said Zirinsky, referencing when one of the guns used in the slaying was found in a lake in Mississippi. Billy Ray Turner and Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright were arrested and charged shortly thereafter.

It seemed to be a classic case of the hometown boy who does well and comes home a hero, said Zirinsky. Only this time the ending is tragic.

Kelvin Cowans’ book “The Whispering Woods of Sherra Wright.” (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Kelvin Cowans, who had a two-year intimate relationship with Sherra Wright, met her while doing an interview on the fifth anniversary of Lorenzen Wright’s death for The New Tri-State Defender.

“It was supposed to be a half-hour interview and it turned into six hours, so you could say we hit it off from the start,” he said Wednesday. Cowans was interviewed by CBS for the docudrama.

He said Sherra Wright was a very nice person when he knew her and was “almost too nice,” and open to helping people.

Describing Sherra Wright as very religious, Cowans said she had a prayer closet that she used often, sometimes falling asleep in prayer at times where he had to wake her at 3 in the morning to come to bed.

Cowans, 42, dated Sherra Wright in 2015 and 2016. They moved to Houston shortly after they started dating. At the time, she was in the process of divorcing someone else.

Kelvin Cowans and Sherra Wright in happier times. (Courtesy Photo)

Several factors, which he details in his recently-released book – “The Whispering Woods of Sherra Wright” – led to them splitting up, he said.

Cowans said he wrote the book partly because he wanted to leave a record for Lorenzen Wright’s children to read that is not so slanted.

“As a matter of fact, I dedicate an entire chapter to the children,” he said. “I dedicate a different part to each of them.”

At a bond hearing May 4, Judge Lee Coffee set Turner’s bond at $15 million and said he would not have given him a bond at all if the law did not require one. Sherra Wright’s bond hearing was postponed until May 30.

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman read the affidavit of the Lorenzen Wright murder plot into the record. In that reading, he named a third co-conspirator.

Turner, Sherra Wright and Wright’s cousin, Jimmie Martin – the key witness for the prosecution, all conspired to kill Lorenzen Wright, according to prosecutors.

Martin, a would-be Memphis rapper who goes by the stage name Triksta, told prosecutors that he and Turner went to Atlanta to kill Lorenzen Wright at his home but the plan didn’t work. Turner and Martin, according to the affidavit, killed Lorenzen in Memphis, and his body was discovered days later.

They, along with Sherra Wright, went back to the scene of the murder to collect shell casings and the murder weapon that was left behind, according to the affidavit, which also alleges that Martin led investigators to the murder weapon that was in a lake in Walnut, Miss.

Turner and Sherra Wright were engaged in an intimate relationship during the period of the murder, according to Martin’s statements in the affidavit.

Brown and “48 Hours” report on the case through interviews that include those who knew Lorenzen Wright best, friends, local journalists who covered Wright’s story, and Toney Armstrong, former Memphis Police Director

In addition to Zirinsky’s work as senior executive producer, the “Lorenzen Wright: No Defense” news series episode is produced by Josh Gelman, Alvin Patrick and Jaime Hellmann. Mike Baluzy, Michael Sheehan, David Spungen and Karen Brenner are the editors. Jordan Kinsey is the associate producer. Judy Tygard is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor.