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Judge shot and killed in his driveway

A police car. (Dreamstime/TNS)
October 20, 2023

A tragic incident unfolded in Hagerstown, Maryland, as Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson was shot and killed outside his home Thursday night.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported that Judge Wilkinson was shot multiple times in his driveway around 8 p.m. on Thursday, was transported to Meritus Medical Center, and died of his injuries. His wife and son were inside the home at the time of the incident, according to NBC 4 Washington.

Authorities are currently on the hunt for the suspect, 49-year-old Pedro Argote, who is believed to be linked to the murder. Wilkinson, age 52, had presided over Argote’s divorce case earlier on Thursday, granting custody of their children to Argote’s wife, which is suspected to be the motive behind the shooting, according to law enforcement.

Sheriff Brian Albert held a news conference on Friday morning, revealing that Argote specifically targeted Judge Wilkinson due to the custody ruling. According to Albert, Argote was not present during the divorce proceeding, which took place on the same day as the shooting.

Argote, described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, is considered “armed and dangerous” and is a legal handgun owner. Authorities are searching for a silver 2009 Mercedes GL450 with Maryland registration plate 4EH0408, believed to be the vehicle Argote is using.

Albert noted that police deputies had previously responded to verbal domestic assault incidents at the Argote residence in recent years.

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One attorney, Ashley Wilburn, who represented the children in the divorce case, had high praise for Judge Wilkinson, referring to him as “an amazing man, father, husband, and judge.” She added, “He is a hero.”

To ensure the safety of judges residing in Washington County, state troopers were deployed overnight as a precaution, according to NBC 4 Washington. The Maryland Judiciary is cooperating with law enforcement agencies to resolve the matter and ensure the safety of judges, staff, and visitors.

Wilkinson, who was sworn in as a circuit court judge in 2020, had a strong commitment to serving his community. During his swearing-in ceremony, he stated, “It’s an honor and it’s humbling, and I’m happy to serve.”

According to NBC 4 Washington, Hagerstown, a city of nearly 44,000 residents, lies in the panhandle of Maryland, approximately 75 miles northwest of Baltimore. Circuit courts in each Maryland county handle significant criminal and civil cases, making Wilkinson’s role pivotal in the local judicial system.

Maryland Courts issued a statement on Wilkinson’s death Thursday, saying, “The Maryland Judiciary mourns the tragic death of Judge Andrew Wilkinson. As we grieve his loss, we ask that you keep the Wilkinson family in your prayers and please respect their privacy.”

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.