In a hearing on Wednesday Blake Ballin and Steve Farese Jr., who are the attorneys for accused killer Sherra Wright, asked the Criminal Court Divison 7 for a modest bond of $100,000, arguing that Wright had ties to the Memphis community and would not be a flight risk. She would live with her brother, Julius Robinson. Poverty, they conceded, would prevent most bonds from being met. But Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee noted Sherra Wright’s recent chaotic and unstable behavior and at one point said he couldn’t trust her.
Wright is being held for the first-degree murder of her ex-husband former NBA player Lorenzen Wright (Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies). Judge Coffee set her bond at $20 million, an amount intended to keep Sherra Wright exactly where she is, in jail.
The 2010 murder that Sherra Wright is accused of committing was a cold case until last December when information led to a gun in a Mississippi River. The gun information was given to police by Wright’s cousin, Jimmie Martin.
Martin has his own issues. He is serving a 20 year prison sentence for the death of his girlfriend, Martha Jean Bownes. When Lorenzen Wright was killed and abandoned in a swampy field in the humid summer air in July 2010, Martin was out on bond after a jury could not come to a decision on first-degree murder.
Regardless of Martin’s violent background, Sherra Wright and co-defendant Billy Turner were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. They pled not guilty. As in most cases where a partner murders a spouse or former spouse, money is the motivation that drives the greed.
If Sherra Wright wanted a lower bond, she needed better behavior at Shelby County Jail East. The day before the bond hearing, she undressed, stuffed her clothes down the toilet in an attempt to flood her cell and then said she was going swimming. Judge Coffee also heard Prosecutor Paul Hagerman recount how Wright was abusive to guards, belligerent, non-cooperative and didn’t follow directions. Hagerman said Wright started a “verbal riot.”
Judge Coffee called her language towards the guards abusive and offensive. He also conceded the case more than likely would end in a Sherra Wright conviction.
Blake Ballin defended his client’s behavior by arguing she was becoming mentally unglued. He spoke of her “deteriorating mental health.” Whatever merit there was in his defense of Wright, it contradicted his argument for a lower bond. Mental health difficulties negate the rationalization that she would not be a risk if she was released on bond. Judge Coffee agreed Wright would be a danger if released.
An interesting development in the case is that Sherra Wright’s bond was higher than co-defendant Billy Ray Turner’s bond. That’s because Wright is considered the “linchpin” behind the murder and conspiracy to commit murder. In other words, it was her plan.
The plan included a previous Lorenzen Wright attack at his Atlanta condo that failed. The killers found a man sleeping on the couch in Wright’s condo and scrapped the plan only to execute a second plan three months later.
As Sherra Wright was led into the courtroom, she mouthed to Lorenzen Wright’s mother, “I didn’t do it.” As she looked around, she soon noticed no one was there on her behalf, no family. Her attorney spoke of her community ties.
“She has another sister Katrina Robinson in Memphis and extended family, including aunts, stepmother, uncles and cousins. They all live here in Shelby County.”
But none showed up or testified on her behalf at the bond hearing.
As she left the court she spoke to the judge. “Thank you, your honor.” She is facing life in prison plus 50 years.