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Thirteen year NBA veteran Lorenzen Wright was found dead in a densely wooded area fifteen miles outside of Memphis, Tennessee this week. The 34 year-old Wright was missing for 10 days before his body was discovered by Memphis police. Over his professional basketball career, Wright played for five NBA teams and was living in Memphis at the time of his death.
Although local police did not initially suspect foul play when his disappearance was first reported by family, CBS News reports Memphis Police Department's statement that "it has some of its finest homicide investigators working on the case." In addition, the Toronto Sun reports that a 911 call was made in the early hours of July 19th from Wright's cell phone, when the dispatcher heard several gun shots in the background. There have been no other official statements released regarding the details surrounding Wright's death.
Homicide is the killing of one human being by another, and is actually a much broader term than murder because it does not necessarily require proof of the intent to kill element. When police are conducting a homicide investigation, they are considering both criminal and non-criminal actions that may have led to the death. Thus, while murder is always an illegal action, there are times when homicide is not. For example, self defense and defense of others are legal defenses that can serve to mitigate a murder charge to a homicide that is justifiable in the eyes of the law.
Discovery of Lorenzen Wright's body is just the beginning of the lengthy homicide investigation process. As the exact cause and circumstances of his death are still unknown, it is too soon to tell whether this homicide investigation will turn into a murder investigation. As many as 200 people gathered in the area near where Wright's body was discovered Wednesday night in a show of support for the athlete. Hopefully some of these people will have clues to his death as well.