Pedro Argote found dead after manhunt in Maryland judge’s murder

Pedro Argote, 49, allegedly gunned down Andrew Wilinson in the driveway of his home on 19 October

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 26 October 2023 15:16 EDT

Hagerstown judge’s funeral set for Friday

The suspect accused of killing Maryland judge Andrew Wilkinson as revenge for rulings in his divorce proceeding has been found dead.

Pedro Argote, 49, allegedly gunned down the 52-year-old judge in the driveway of his home in Hagerstown on 19 October and an intensive manhunt was launched by authorities to track him down.

Argote’s body was found in a heavily wooded area in Williamsport, Maryland, on Thursday, around one mile from where his car was discovered last week, according to officials.

“On October 26, 2023, at approximately 11.00am, during an expanded evidentiary search in the Williamsport, MD area, a deceased person was located. The deceased individual has been positively identified as Pedro Argote, the suspect wanted for the murder of Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

No cause of death has been made public by law enforcement.

Sheriff Brian Albert has said that Wilkinson had been presiding over Argote’s divorce from his wife, and earlier on the day of the fatal shooting had granted her custody of the couple’s children.

Court documents also state that the judge had ordered Argote to pay child support, banned him from visiting or contacting his wife or children unless she initiated it, and gave her possession of the family home, ABC News reported.

The couple had four children aged between three and 12 and the divorce was filed in June 2022.

FILE - Washington County Circuit Court Clerk Kevin Tucker, right, swears in Andrew F. Wilkinson as a circuit court judge on Jan. 10, 2020, as Wilkinson's wife, Stephanie, watches.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore had denounced the killing of Wilkinson as “cold-blooded” and “vicious.”

“My heart goes out to Judge Wilkinson’s family, and my prayers are with everyone who knew him, loved him, and served alongside him,” Gov Moore said in a statement at the time.

Officers with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Dept. SWAT Team search for suspect Pedro Argote

“Washington County community can breathe a little easier this afternoon,” said Sheriff Brian Albert at a Thursday afternoon press conference as he told reporters that Argote’s body will undergo an autopsy to find out the cause of his death.

“It’s a relief but it is still a tragedy we are dealing with. It brings a little bit of closure to them but it is still a tragedy they lost a husband, father and brother,” said the sheriff. And he added: “Everyone should sleep a little bit better tonight.”

The sheriff said that it was an ongoing investigation but added, “We are pretty sure we got our guy.”

And he stated that there was no prior threat made against the judge and that “added security” had been installed in the community to protect judges although he declined to characterise what that was.

“The family was relieved that we brought this to a little bit of closure,” he said when asked how they had reacted to news of Argote’s death.

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