2 charged in slaying of ex-college hoops star found in SUV

AP News
|
Posted: Nov 03, 2016 3:13 PM

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — A former college basketball star and NBA draft pick whose body was found in the back seat of an SUV in New York last year was killed by two men, including one with whom he lived and raised two girls, prosecutors and friends said.

Mark Holdbrooks and David Victor were charged Tuesday with killing 35-year-old Michael Wright, who played for the University of Arizona and was drafted by the New York Knicks.

The men were being held on $3 million bail. No information was available on whether they had attorneys to comment on their behalf.

Holdbrooks, who lived with Wright in Closter, New Jersey, had reported him missing in November 2015. His body was later found covered by a trash bag in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors said Holdbrooks and Victor drugged Wright at the home Wright and Holdbrooks shared. They said the men killed him and loaded his body into Wright's SUV.

Wright suffered head trauma, which investigators said was caused by an ax, according to a criminal complaint. He also suffered a cut and puncture wound near his eye.

The 6-foot-8-inch forward played for the Arizona Wildcats. The Knicks drafted him in 2001 and waived him before the season started. He went on to play in France, Germany and Turkey.

Wright and Holdbrooks lived together in Chicago before moving to New Jersey, according to William Nelson, who coached Wright when he played alongside Kevin Garnett at Chicago's Farragut Academy.

Nelson told The Record newspaper that Holdbrooks attended a memorial service for Wright in Chicago in January on what would have been his 36th birthday.

"He talked about Michael as a loving father raising his kids," Nelson said. "He played the part."

Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal told The Record that Holdbrooks was arrested Tuesday in Manhattan, where he was living with the two girls and a woman.

Dave Paladino, a New Jersey trainer who helped Wright rehabilitate an injury, told WNBC-TV that Holdbrooks said Wright spoke highly of him when he visited their home after his body was found.

"It's kind of disturbing, now that they have to learn Mark, who was their guardian, is now their father's murderer," Paladino said of the two girls. "It's very disturbing, very tragic."