MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Star defense attorneys Blake Ballin and Steve Farese Jr. said they can no longer represent Sherra Wright in the murder of NBA star Lorenzen Wright.
Sherra is the ex-wife of Lorenzen. Investigators charged her and Billy Ray Turner with killing Lorenzen in 2010.
Ballin said the relationship between the legal team and Wright has "deteriorated," but he could not comment further.
"Let me be very specific. There are rules of ethics that govern what has transpired here. All that we can ethically say, pursuant to the rules is that the relationship between us and the client had deteriorated to the point where we couldn't effectively represent her. We owed an ethical duty to her to file a motion to withdraw," Ballin said.
The judge appointed Juni Ganguli as Wright's new lawyer. Ganguli is a private attorney, but his legal fees will be paid for by taxpayers.
Ganguli said he's excited to represent Sherra in this high-profile case.
"It's a big case. Excited. It will be fun. It will be a lot of work. It will be exciting," Ganguli said.
"The court was aware that Mr. Ballin and Mr. Farese were going to withdraw from the case, so the court contacted me," Ganguli said.
Ganguli was chosen off a list of attorneys willing to take complex cases, and he has a lot of catching up to do.
He said he'll start by meeting with Wright for the first time Thursday, next collect the "discovery" from her former attorneys, and then start sifting through the files.
Ganguli said he walked into this knowing only what's been reported on the news
"What we do know is the state's star witness is a person who's been convicted of murder himself," Ganguli said. "We also know Ms. Wright has no criminal history."
Although Ganguli will have to play catch up, he says he's confident in his skills to have a successful case.
"I've been licensed for 21 years now, and represented about 100 people charged with murder," Ganguli said.
Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said the day's events were news to him, but he didn't think they were particularly unique.
"There's twists and turns in every case. This is one that's had more than its fair share of twists and turns over the last seven years, and I'm sure there will be more twists and turns. This is just part of the process to make sure everybody gets represented fairly," Hagerman said.
At previous hearings in May, Wright was given a $20 million bond while Turner's was set at $15 million.
Turner was also in court Wednesday. His attorney, John Keith Perry, Jr., remains in charge of his case.
Wright and Turner are scheduled to be back in court August 22.
Judge Lee Coffee said he wants to have the case go to trial sometime in the next 18 months.
"That is the court's intention, to get this case tried to get this case tried no later than the next 18 months, and that's a long period of time," Judge Coffee said.