A man whose divorce case was before murdered judge is ID'd as a person of interest in the killing
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Court records show that the Maryland judge who was shot to death outside his home presided over divorce case of the man now identified as person of interest in the killing.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said it was searching for 49-year-old Pedro Argote in connection with the shooting death of Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, 52, was found with gunshot wounds around 8 p.m. Thursday, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Wilkinson was taken from his home in Hagerstown to Meritus Medical Center, where he died of his injuries, the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office is investigating.
State troopers were deployed overnight as a precaution to protect judges who live in Washington County, state police spokesperson Elena Russo said.
In a statement, the Maryland Judiciary said it is mourning Wilkinson’s death, and it is working with law enforcement to help resolve the matter and ensure the safety of judges, staff and visitors.
Wilkinson was sworn in as a circuit court judge in 2020. The 1994 University of North Carolina graduate received his law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1997 and then became a circuit court law clerk in Washington County.
At his swearing-in, Wilkinson said he wanted to become a judge to serve the community, The Herald-Mail reported.
"It’s an honor and it’s humbling, and I’m happy to serve,” he said.
Wilkinson thanked retired Judge Frederick C. Wright III for guiding his career. Wilkinson’s military family had moved around, but when Wright hired his mother as a law clerk in 1983, Hagerstown became his home.
In Maryland, circuit courts in each county handle serious criminal and civil cases, including many that are appealed from the lower-level district courts, according to the state courts website.
The city of nearly 44,000 lies about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Baltimore in the panhandle of Maryland, near the state lines of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.