Two men accused of killing late Memphis Chamber CEO Phil Trenary in 2018 get trial date

Nearly four years after the death of former Greater Memphis Chamber CEO Philip Trenary, the two defendants now know they will go to trial in early December.

Quandarius Richardson, 22, and 26-year-old McKinney Wright were indicted by a grand jury in June 2019. The two are charged with first-degree murder and felony aggravated robbery.

According to an affidavit, Wright told officers that he and Richardson were discussing “potential robbery targets as they drove through downtown Memphis” on the evening of Sept. 27, 2018. Witnesses later told Memphis police investigators that they saw someone get up and getting out of a white truck and walking towards Trenari and shot him in the back of the head.

When officers arrived at the scene, they “observed Trenary lying in the street unresponsive with citizens attempting to render aid,” according to the affidavit. Officers were called around 7:30 p.m., with Trenary pronounced dead by staff at Regional One Medical Center about half an hour later.

October 2, 2018 - Quadarius Richardson, 18, appears in the Seventh Circuit Court of Common Pleas with Judge Bill Anderson on Tuesday.

October 2, 2018 – Quadarius Richardson, 18, appears in the Seventh Circuit Court of Common Pleas with Judge Bill Anderson on Tuesday.

After further investigation, MPD identified Richardson, then 18, as a suspect, although what connected Richardson to the crime was not disclosed by police.

Just before noon the next day, officers saw a stolen truck in Frayser that matched the description of the truck from the Front Street crime scene. After trying to pull the truck over, officers were led on a high-speed chase through Memphis neighborhoods and highways until they crashed at the intersection of McLemore Avenue and Mississippi Avenue.

Through the carnage, first responders pulled Richardson from the mangled cab of the Ford F-150. Shymontre Reed, a 19-year-old at the time, was also in the car but was cleared of any involvement in Trenary’s death.

Wright was arrested the next day, along with his 16-year-old cousin. Police reports and affidavits never say exactly how MPD connected the three to the case, saying only that Richardson provided a “statement” that led police to Wright and the 19-year-old. The 16-year-old, whose identity has not been released, will be dismissed from the case later.

McKinney Wright Jr.  appearing in Criminal Court Division Eight with Judge Chris Craft, July 11, 2019.

McKinney Wright Jr. appearing in Criminal Court Division Eight with Judge Chris Craft, July 11, 2019.

Trenary was walking home downtown from the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Move it Memphis in nearby Loflin Yard when he was shot. He wasn’t running in the event, himself, but spoke highly of the city before beginning the half-mile walk back to his property on South Front Street.

“It was very difficult to know that he was just sharing his enthusiasm for his team, the city, and as always, he was very positive and bullish about Memphis,” the Memphis-Shelby County board member told the Commercial Appeal in 2018. Schools, Kevin Woods. “His faith in Memphis had never been stronger. And then, moments later, he was gone.”

After Trenary’s death, a fund was established in his honor through the Community Foundation that bears his name. The fund was an ongoing tribute to a man who made Memphis his home for more than two decades and consistently looked for ways to spread wealth to the city.

In 2014, Phil Trenary became the new president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

In 2014, Phil Trenary became the new president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

He was posthumously honored by the Memphis City Council in 2018 with a Humanitarian Award received by Brittney Rowe, his daughter.

“He didn’t pursue advancement for recognition, he pursued it because it was part of his fabric,” Rowe said. “He could see the best in every person and if he was talking to you, you were the only person in the room.”

Trenary was cited as the “tip of the spear” on several initiatives the chamber pursued, leading to the fight against poverty and convincing businesses to create summer jobs for young people — a route he told the Commercial Appeal in mid-2017 he would lower poverty rates in the city could be better.

“We’re talking about breaking the cycle of poverty, which doesn’t mean you’re going to end poverty, but if you’re the first person in that family to have a steady middle-class job and have a viable family, have a car, have a house, you have all these things, you’ve broken the cycle of poverty,” Trenary said. “So that’s what we’re talking about. Breaking the cycle of poverty in that family. If you do it ten times, we’re talking about breaking the cycle of poverty in that community.”

Lucas Finton is a journalist at The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.

This article originally appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis Chamber CEO Phil Trenary shooters face trial in December

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