MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Board of Parole has officially denied Sherra Wright’s parole and set her next appearance before the board for May 2027.
An initial parole hearing was held May 11, 2022, when the board member present, Barrett Rich, said he would vote to deny parole. In the days since, three more board members also voted to deny her parole. The board said Monday the decision was made based on the seriousness of the offense.
So far, Wright has served three years of her 30-year sentence for her role in organizing the murder of her ex-husband, NBA player Lorenzen Wright.
"I don't see any kind of reason that early release would be justified in any manner," TN Parole Board Member Barrett Rich said during the May 11th hearing.
That hearing included never before heard allegations by Sherra Wright and her children, two of whom spoke in support of her release.
"(Sherra) is a victim of domestic violence, abuse, whatever it is, mental, physical, emotional," Lorenzen Wright Jr. said.
"My ex-husband Lorenzen, he got involved in the drug ring and there was some people he owed great amounts of money," Sherra Wright said.
Lorenzen Wright's family and law enforcement denied those claims.
"If she presented some of this back then, we'd investigate. We'd go through the evidence to see, but it wasn't," MPD Sgt. Tony Evans said. "The drug aspect, when she was first asked, she didn't know anything, hear anything."
Sherra Wright did express remorse during the hearing, but it wasn't enough to sway the parole board member's recommendation.
"I am taking full responsibility for leading people staying where he was staying in Atlanta," Sherra Wright said. "I am taking full responsibility for setting up the meeting on (July) 18th (2010) that eventually led to this death."
Sherra pleaded guilty to charges of facilitation of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the killing of her ex-husband on July 25, 2019. She has been housed in Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center since her plea.
Although Sherra was sentenced to 30 years for her crimes, her plea deal made it possible for her to be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent, or nine years, of her 30-year sentence.
Being that Sherra’s generous plea deal already affords her a reduced sentence, it was questionable why she was up for parole so soon, being that she has only served three years of the nine years required for her eligibility for parole.
According to The Department of Corrections PIO Tylee Tracer, Sherra received 551 days of pretrial jail credit and 144 days of pretrial behavior credit. In addition to the pretrial credits Sherra received, she also earned 441 days of sentence reduction credits.
Pretrial jail credit and pretrial behavior credits are granted to defendants for time that is served before they are officially convicted of a crime, and also for good behavior during the time served before conviction.
The Department of Corrections also said Sherra’s early parole hearing was determined by her safety valve date, which is the earliest possible release date an inmate can receive in such a case that a prison has an executive order in place to manage overcrowding.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich released this statement after the parole denial Monday: “Today’s denial of early parole for Sherra Wright was welcome news to the family and friends of Lorenzen Wright, and to all those who believe that criminal defendants should be held accountable for their crimes. To have released this defendant after she has served less than five years of a 30-year sentence for murder conspiracy would have diminished respect for the law by declaring a policy of tolerance for violent criminal behavior. This case illustrates why I support Truth in Sentencing.”
The long, drawn out hearings for Lorenzen’s murder have stretched over the last 12 years. In March of this year, all persons involved in the murder of Lorenzen were convicted and sentenced in the case.
Lorenzen Wright was an NBA player, and he and Sherra shared seven children. During his lifetime, he played for the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lorenzen was 34 when he was killed.
Memphis Police said they received a 911 call from Lorenzen’s cell phone July 19, 2010, and there were 11 gunshots recorded on the call. Police later found Lorenzen dead and abandoned in a field in southeast Memphis on July 28, 2010.
Sherra Wright and Billy Ray Turner were not arrested and charged with Wright’s murder until 2017. Investigators said they got a break in the case when they received a testimony from Jimmie Martin, Sherra’s cousin, who she recruited along with Turner in the conspiracy to murder Lorenzen.
Martin was incarcerated for the murder of his girlfriend, a non-related crime, at the time that he gave prosecutors his testimony. He was granted immunity in Lorenzen’s murder.
Billy Ray Turner was the last person sentenced in the murder case. He was found guilty on all charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy, and he received life in prison. Turner is eligible for release after serving 85%, or 51 years of his sentence.
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