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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

COVID delays trial for Billy Ray Turner, accused of killing former NBA star Lorenzen Wright

Judge Lee Coffee said Shelby County courtrooms are not suitable for trying many cases, and certainly not cases during a pandemic.
9-16 – billy turner

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We have new information about Billy Ray Turner's murder case. Turner is accused of murdering NBA star Lorenzen Wright 10 years ago.

Last year, Wright's ex-wife Sherra Wright pleaded guilty to facilitation to commit first degree murder and attempted first attempted first degree murder. 

Her one-time co-defendant, Billy Ray Turner, is still waiting to stand trial for first degree murder. Turner was expected to appear in court Monday for a hearing and a possible new trial date, but that was not the case. 

Due to COVID restrictions, Turner did not appear in court, but his attorney and the prosecution did.

No new trial date was set. Instead, they scheduled a reset date for December 7th to discuss court settings.

Judge Lee Coffee said he has to first meet with Shelby County Health Department’s Bureau of Infectious Diseases for approval to try any case.

The bureau and the court have to work out how to move forward with trials during the pandemic - considering how many people can be allowed in a courtroom, social distancing, seating, etc.

Judge Coffee said the county’s courtroom setups have been an ongoing issue that he’s previously brought to the mayor’s attention. He says Shelby County courtrooms are not suitable for trying many cases, and certainly not cases during a pandemic.

Judge Coffee is scheduled to meet with Dr. Randolph with the County health department Monday afternoon to figure out how to safely resume trying  cases.