The recent murder of a judge has shocked the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. In Hagerstown, Maryland, Judge Andrew Wilkinson, a 52-year-old judge, was killed on October 19, 2023. Pedro Argote, a 49-year-old man, is suspected of killing the judge after losing custody of his children and being banned from his family home. He is presently on the run, and law enforcement bodies have set a reward of $10,000 for anyone who can help with his whereabouts, according to the Daily Mail.
According to Wilx, “Pedro Argote, 49, is suspected of gunning down the judge in his driveway hours after he ruled against him in a divorce case. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on Facebook that the silver Mercedes SUV believed to be driven by Argote had been located in a wooded area in Williamsport, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) southwest of Hagerstown, where the judge was shot outside his home.”
Law authorities consider the man armed and dangerous. Wilx reported, “Wilkinson had presided over a divorce proceeding involving Argote earlier on Thursday, but Argote was not present at the hearing, Albert said. The judge gave custody of Argote’s children to his wife at the hearing, and that was the motive for the killing, the sheriff said. The judge had also ordered Argote to have no contact with the children and pay $1,120 a month in child support.” According to The Washington Post, “Law enforcement officials said Saturday they located a silver Mercedes that was last operated by Pedro Manuel Argote, a man suspected of killing a Maryland circuit court judge.”
According to AP News and the authorities, “The judge was shot in his driveway Thursday evening while his wife and son were home and just hours after he ruled against the suspect in a divorce case.”
The judge was found with gunshot wounds around 8 p.m. outside his Hagerstown house, and “Wilkinson was taken to Meritus Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.” Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert said the authorities are “actively working” to apprehend 49-year-old Pedro Argote for the “targeted attack” on Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson.
But what led to this? Pedro’s ex-wife accused him of physically abusing one of the kids in 2022, according to court records found by NBC. The report also added, “The petition for a protection order, filed on June 12, 2022, in Washington County District Court, also accused Pedro Argote, 49, of harassment via text messages, constant monitoring through security cameras, and threats to take custody of their children, ages 12, 11, 5, and 3, over false claims of neglect.”
She then stated that after the order, the 11-year-old had not experienced any more abuse as she had intervened. Pedro had tried pushing the mother of four away when he was assaulting their child. That is when she said, “I am not taking this anymore. I will protect my child.”
The accusation showed Argote abusing the 11-year-old for years. His ex-wife did not receive help from any relatives or organizations, including domestic violence advocates, in 2012. This led to a domestic abuse order against him. The ruling was related to this case where Pedro was denied access to his children or their family home. This was part of the messy divorce battle Argote started last year.
According to AP News, “In his initial court filing, Argote accused his wife of neglecting her homeschooling responsibilities and failing to properly supervise the children. But she filed a countercomplaint, accusing Argote of ‘cruel treatment’ and saying she couldn’t support herself financially.”
The ex-wife had also written in court documents that, “I don’t get out of the house without his knowledge” as “I know he has his weapon on him at all times.” According to Wilkinson’s judgment, “The testimony leaves this court with the uneasy sense that Father engages in absolute control over Mother, their finances, and their lives. This is not in the best interests of the children.” The kind-hearted judge he was, many people shared their views on how kind a man he was and how unfair his death was for the legal community.”