US Judge May Have Been Killed Over a Divorce Case

Andrew Wilkinson was found fatally shot in driveway of residence in Hagerstown, Maryland, sheriff says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2023 11:28 AM CDT
Maryland Judge Killed Outside His Home, Cops Seek This Man
Authorities are looking for Pedro Argote, seen here.   (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

A district court judge has been fatally shot outside his Maryland home, and authorities are now searching for a suspect in their homicide investigation. The New York Times reports that Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was found in the driveway of his Hagerstown residence around 8pm on Thursday with apparent gunshot wounds, according to a statement from the Washington County Sheriff's Office. He was taken to the nearby Meritus Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

On Friday morning, the sheriff's office released a photo of 49-year-old Pedro Argote, a man it says it's seeking in connection to the homicide investigation. Authorities say Argote may be driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL 450 with the license plate number 4EH0408, warning those who may encounter him to "not approach him but to immediately notify law enforcement." Argote is described as being around 5 feet 7 inches tall and 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Sheriff Brian Albert confirms Argote is a suspect, and that Wilkinson had presided over Argote's 2022 divorce case, per the AP. Wilkinson awarded custody of Argote's children to his ex-wife at a hearing on Thursday for which Argote was not present. Albert says that's motive for the killing.

Albert adds that Wilkinson was "targeted" by Argote, and that Wilkinson's wife and son were home at the time of the shooting. Argote is considered "armed and dangerous," per the sheriff. A spokesperson for the Maryland State Police said state troopers were sent out last night to watch over other judges in the county as a precaution after the shooting of Wilkinson, who was sworn onto the circuit court bench in 2020. "We are a courthouse of six judges," Brett R. Wilson, an administrative judge, tells the Times in mourning his colleague. "We all know each other very well." (More judges stories.)

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