Man Accused of Murdering Maryland Judge in Divorce Case Discovered Deceased in Woodland Area

by Madison Thomas
Maryland Judge Murder Suspect Found Dead

A suspect implicated in the fatal shooting of a Maryland judge, who had presided over his divorce proceedings, was located dead on Thursday in a densely forested region not far from the crime scene. This discovery concluded an intensive weeklong manhunt that has shaken this predominantly rural community.

Pedro Argote, aged 49, is believed to have been incensed over the loss of custody of his children when he fatally shot Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson. The incident occurred on October 19, just outside Judge Wilkinson’s residence where he was shot in his driveway.

Only a few hours before the fatal attack, Judge Wilkinson had overseen a hearing during which Argote’s wife and daughter provided heart-wrenching testimony detailing years of abuse at Argote’s hands. Argote was absent from the hearing, which culminated in Judge Wilkinson ruling in favor of his wife and granting her sole custody of their four children.

Following the shooting, law enforcement agencies immediately initiated a search operation for Argote. On the subsequent Saturday, his SUV was found abandoned in a wooded region in Williamsport, approximately 8 miles (or 13 kilometers) southwest of Hagerstown, the site of the judge’s shooting.

Subsequent searches of the vicinity where the vehicle was located initially indicated that Argote was not in the area. However, authorities announced on Thursday morning that upon conducting “further evidentiary searches,” they discovered Argote’s body.

“We initially performed a cursory search of that location but conducted a more meticulous search today,” stated Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert during a Thursday press conference.

While the specific details surrounding Argote’s time and cause of death are still pending an autopsy, officials and the Wilkinson family expressed relief upon learning of the discovery. Several law enforcement officers attended the press conference after paying respects at a viewing ceremony for Judge Wilkinson, where they also met with his grieving family.

“It’s a mitigating circumstance, but we are still grappling with a devastating tragedy,” said Sheriff Albert when queried about the family’s response.

Washington County Attorney Kirk Downey, a former colleague of Judge Wilkinson, also found out about the discovery of Argote’s body as he prepared to attend the viewing. Downey expressed that this would offer some solace to a community that had been living in heightened anxiety for nearly a week.

“I am still grappling with the incredulity of this senseless and tragic event,” Downey commented on the murder of his friend.

In a subsequent Thursday afternoon statement, the Maryland judiciary commended the work carried out by law enforcement and requested that the privacy of the Wilkinson family be respected.

“Our grief continues for the loss of our esteemed colleague and friend as we stand in solidarity with the Wilkinson family, the judicial staff of the Circuit Court for Washington County, and the greater communities of Hagerstown and Washington County at large,” read the statement.

A funeral service for Judge Wilkinson, who was 52 years old, is planned for Friday morning in Hagerstown.

In prior testimony, Argote’s family members had divulged that he had exerted total control over their lives, keeping them socially isolated and subjecting them to varying forms of abuse over recent years.

During the initial session of the recent divorce hearing, which took place on September 26, Argote chose to represent himself. Although he exhibited signs of frustration, his demeanor remained composed and he frequently addressed the judge with respect, using the term “your honor.” Argote was absent during the second half of the hearing, citing a headache as his reason for not appearing.

The judge consequently ruled against Argote’s visitation rights and also imposed a restraining order, prohibiting him from contacting his children or entering the family home.

According to authorities, Argote appeared in Judge Wilkinson’s driveway just hours after these rulings were made.

Judge Wilkinson was a longstanding resident of Hagerstown and was actively engaged in community affairs. Hagerstown, a city with a population nearing 44,000, is situated about 75 miles (approximately 120 kilometers) northwest of Baltimore in Maryland’s panhandle.

Reported from Baltimore by Skene. Additional contributions from Michael Kunzelman of Big Big News, based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maryland Judge Murder Suspect Found Dead

What is the main event discussed in the article?

The article discusses the discovery of the dead body of Pedro Argote, who was suspected of murdering Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson. Judge Wilkinson had presided over Argote’s divorce case and had ruled against him, awarding sole custody of their four children to Argote’s wife.

Who was Judge Andrew Wilkinson?

Judge Andrew Wilkinson was a Washington County Circuit Court Judge based in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was 52 years old at the time of his murder and was a longstanding resident of the city, actively engaged in community affairs.

How did the events unfold?

Judge Wilkinson had presided over a divorce hearing for Pedro Argote, ruling against Argote and granting sole custody of their children to Argote’s wife. Hours after the hearing, Argote allegedly shot and killed Judge Wilkinson in his driveway. Law enforcement agencies launched a weeklong manhunt for Argote, eventually discovering his body in a wooded area.

Where was Pedro Argote found?

Pedro Argote was found dead in a densely forested area not far from the crime scene in a location near Williamsport, Maryland. His SUV was found abandoned in the same area a few days earlier.

What led to Pedro Argote’s divorce proceedings?

During the divorce hearing, it was revealed that Argote had been abusive to his wife and children for years, controlling every aspect of their lives and subjecting them to various forms of violence. His family provided emotional testimony against him during the hearing.

What were the reactions from the law enforcement and community after Argote’s body was found?

Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert and Washington County Attorney Kirk Downey expressed relief at the discovery of Argote’s body but also emphasized the tragedy and senselessness of the events. The community, which had been on edge for nearly a week, also expected to find some measure of relief following the discovery.

Is there any information on the cause of Pedro Argote’s death?

As of the time the article was written, the specific cause and time of Pedro Argote’s death were pending an autopsy examination.

What measures were taken by the court against Pedro Argote during the divorce proceedings?

Judge Wilkinson granted sole custody of the four children to Argote’s wife. He also ruled out visitation rights for Argote and barred him from contacting his children or entering the family home.

When and where will Judge Andrew Wilkinson’s funeral be held?

A funeral service for Judge Andrew Wilkinson is scheduled for Friday morning in Hagerstown, Maryland.

What is the broader impact of this incident on the Maryland judiciary and the community?

The Maryland judiciary released a statement commending law enforcement for their work and requesting privacy for Judge Wilkinson’s family. The event has shaken the communities of Hagerstown and Washington County, as well as having a likely impact on the broader judiciary system in Maryland.

More about Maryland Judge Murder Suspect Found Dead

  • Maryland Judiciary Official Statement
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Department Press Release
  • Local News Coverage of Judge Wilkinson’s Murder
  • National News Coverage of Maryland Judge Shooting Case
  • Profile of Judge Andrew Wilkinson
  • Hagerstown Community Response to the Incident
  • Overview of Divorce and Custody Laws in Maryland
  • Washington County Attorney Kirk Downey’s Statement
  • Background on Domestic Abuse Cases in Maryland Courts
  • Historical Crime Rates in Washington County, Maryland

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Tom Harkins October 27, 2023 - 9:39 am

Kinda relieved they found him, but it doesn’t bring the judge back. And still so many questions…

Rachel Stevens October 27, 2023 - 10:45 am

I knew Judge Wilkinson, he was a good man. This is so sad and senseless, I can’t even comprehend it.

Emily Clark October 27, 2023 - 3:33 pm

The law enforcement really worked hard on this case. Hope this brings some closure to the family, if that’s even possible.

Karen Brown October 27, 2023 - 4:15 pm

so many lives ruined… the kids without parents, a judge lost. There are no winners here.

John Smith October 27, 2023 - 6:32 pm

Wow, can’t believe this actually happened so close to home. Really shakes the community, doesn’t it?

Sara Williams October 27, 2023 - 9:20 pm

this is heartbreaking for everyone involved. Prayers for Judge Wilkinson’s family. what’s going wrong with the world?

Laura Davis October 27, 2023 - 11:04 pm

Does anyone know how the children are holding up? Can’t imagine what they’re going through.

Peter Wilson October 28, 2023 - 4:00 am

A tragedy from every angle. But props to the cops for getting some kind of conclusion to this terrible story.

Mike Johnson October 28, 2023 - 4:35 am

Unreal. First we hear about the judge getting shot and now this? it’s like something outta a movie, but way too real.

Steve Allen October 28, 2023 - 7:34 am

we should be talking about how to prevent these things not just report them. What’s being done on that front?


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