Former Whitman student sentenced to 40 years in prison for Bethesda murder


Black & White stock photo

Former Whitman student Joshua Wright was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of 33-year-old Lawrence Wilson Jr.

By Harper Barnowski

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sentenced former Whitman student Joshua Wright to 40 years in prison on Wednesday for the murder of a 33-year-old man in downtown Bethesda in December 2021. The 18-year-old pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in July as part of a plea agreement with local prosecutors.

According to court documents, Wright and two other Whitman students attempted to rob Lawrence Wilson Jr. of two ounces of marijuana under the pretense of an arranged purchase on the evening of Dec. 19, 2021. Security camera footage showed Wilson and the three teens entering the stairwell outside the Wisconsin Avenue Target. Seventeen minutes later, the footage depicted Wright, Antonio Lawrence and Blaise Uchemadu fleeing the scene; Wilson did not reappear in the video. 

Police found Wilson dead outside the Wisconsin Avenue Target on the evening of Dec. 20. According to charging documents, then-16-year-old Antonio Lawrence slit Wilson’s throat during the attempted robbery.

After Wright reported to police that he had witnessed the stabbing, officers arrested the then-17-year-old student and charged each of the three teens with first degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Wright told detectives that he was present at the scene “to act as muscle and to intimidate Wilson,” according to court documents. 

In March, The Black & White first reported that prosecutors had dropped all charges against Uchemadu, citing “insufficient evidence” to proceed with a case against the former student. A criminal trial for Lawrence is scheduled to begin on February 6. 

The court ordered Wright be admitted into the Patuxent Youthful Offenders Program — a psychotherapeutic treatment institution for offenders under 21 — while incarcerated, according to Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office Public Affairs Director Lauren DeMarco. 

The judge sentenced the 18-year-old to the maximum potential prison sentence under the terms of the plea agreement, DeMarco told The Black & White. Upon release, Wright must serve five years of supervised probation.


Additional reporting by Ethan Schenker.