2022 | Courts

17-year-old pleads guilty to murder in Bethesda stairwell

Teen could face up to 40 years in prison; co-defendant awaits trial next year

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A 17-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to the fatal stabbing of a man in Bethesda in December.

The 17-year-old, along with a 16-year-old and Blaise Uchemadu, now 19, were initially charged by Montgomery County police with killing Lawrence Richard Wilson Jr., 33, on Dec. 19 in a stairwell by the Target at 6831 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda Beat generally does not name minors who are charged with crimes.

At the time the three teens were charged as adults with first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. However, the charges against Uchemadu were dropped by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office in March because of “insufficient evidence.”

According to authorities, the teens went to the Target that day with the goal of robbing Wilson of 2 ounces of marijuana, and that one of the juveniles stabbed Wilson in the stairwell. Wilson was found dead by police the next day.

The three teens were students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda at the time of the stabbing, and were residents of the Greentree Adolescent Program – part of the National Center for Children and Families shelter on Greentree Road, according to police.

On Friday, the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to first-degree murder before Circuit Court Judge Karla Smith, the State’s Attorney’s Office announced. He will be sentenced Oct. 12 and faces up to 40 years in prison.

The other defendant, who was 16 at the time of the stabbing, is set to be tried in February 2023.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com