Ex-wife and father of slain NBA player Lorenzen Wright settle trust-fund dispute

By Katherine Fretland, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 15--More than three years after the body of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found in a wooded area of southeast Memphis, his ex-wife on Thursday agreed to a confidential settlement in a dispute over how she spent $1 million in insurance meant to benefit their six children.

In a marble hallway outside Circuit Court, Sherra Robinson, 43, said the agreement means the family will be able to move forward "the way Lorenzen would have wanted us to."

"It's time for healing," she said. Memphis attorney Darryl Gresham, the court-appointed guardian for the five minor children, said the settlement ends the legal action in that court "and any other court."

Earlier Thursday, before the settlement was made, Robinson was tearful on the third floor of the courthouse as she hugged Lisa Wright, who is married to Herb Wright, Lorenzen's father.

Herb Wright petitioned the court to remove Robinson as the trustee of the children's funds. Robinson's expenditures were "unreasonable and excessive," his attorney, Ruby Wharton, said in a court filing.

Wright talked and smiled with Robinson outside the courtroom before the settlement was presented to Judge Karen Williams. After, he declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the agreement. "It's a good day," said Lisa Wright. "It's one of the best days of our lives."

The killing of Lorenzen Wright, who played with the University of Memphis Tigers and the Memphis Grizzlies over the course of his career, remains unsolved.

"We're always hopeful that one day we'll have answers," Robinson said.

A dispatcher in Germantown received a 911 call from the former player's cell phone on July 19, 2010. A male voice said a garbled curse before gunshots were heard. The phone went dead, and no one answered when the dispatcher dialed the number. Wright's body was found nine days later in a wooded area.

On Wednesday, Wharton asked Robinson why she wrote herself checks and paid taxes, insurance and credit-card bills from a trust set up in 2011 for the children.

Robinson admitted that in February the trust's Wells Fargo Bank account was down to $5 and a nickel. However, her attorney, Christopher Donovan, argued that she has more than $950,000 in real estate that belongs to the trust -- including the family's Eads, Tennessee, home and a lake-front house in Greers Ferry, Arkansas.

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Robinson said she needed about $96,000 a year to run her household in 2011, but she only made about $17,500 from babysitting and got $60,000 from Social Security. She said her expenses fluctuated in 2012.

"You were running a deficit," Wharton said. "We just went through that. How is it that you had money to purchase items, ma'am, anything that you say was for the benefit of the children, if you didn't have enough money to even meet your household expenses? Can you help me out on that?"

"We used trust funds," Robinson said.

Robinson said the withdrawals were made in cash to spend on the children. She said she could not write checks because Lorenzen Wright had bounced too many.

"I paid for lots of things with cash, because there were a lot of people who wouldn't even accept checks because there were things that had happened prior," she said. "I don't know if we should use the term paying myself, or I don't think that's a good term to use."

"You used that, though, didn't you?" Wharton said.

"That may not have been a good term to use," Robinson said.

Staff writer Beth Warren contributed to this report.


(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at www.commercialappeal.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



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