Tue. Jun 18th, 2024
alert-–-pedro-argote,-who-was-the-suspect-in-the-killing-of-maryland-judge-andrew-wilkinson,-is-found-dead-a-week-after-gunning-down-the-justice-presiding-over-his-custody-caseAlert – Pedro Argote, who was the suspect in the killing of Maryland Judge Andrew Wilkinson, is found dead a week after gunning down the justice presiding over his custody case

A father accused of shooting dead the Maryland judge who granted his wife’s divorce last week has been found dead.

Pedro Argote went on the run after Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was gunned down on the driveway of his Hagerstown home on October 19 in front of his family.

The judge had banned Argote, 49, from seeing his family and ordered him to pay $1,120 per month in child support after hearing about a ‘shocking’ litany of abuses meted out by the father-of-five.

Argote’s Mercedes SUV was found abandoned in a wooded area south of Hagerstown on Saturday.

The suspect’s body was found today a mile away from the car, Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

The body of Pedro Argote, 49, was found this morning, a week after he was named by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office as the suspect in the murder of Judge Andrew Wilkinson 

Maryland judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was killed on his driveway in front of his family

Wilkinson had served as an associate circuit court judge in Washington County since 2020. He was pictured at his swearing in ceremony on January 10, 2020, alongside his wife Stephanie

‘The deceased was located in a heavily wooded area between Clear Spring Road and Bottom Road approximately one mile north west of where the suspect vehicle was found,’ the office added in a statement.

‘The deceased individual has been positively identified as Pedro Argote, the suspect wanted for the murder of Maryland Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson.’

News of his death came just hours after court recordings were released of testimony given by Argote’s family hours before he disappeared.

His adult daughter said he confined her to her bedroom for most of her teenage years and would beat her with ‘whatever he had close by’, Washington County Court heard.

The father-of-four installed cameras throughout their Frederick home and was ‘watching my every move,’ she said, while his wife Eugenia said he would stuff a towel into their crying baby’s mouth.

The daughter said she cut off contact with her father after leaving home at 18 to escape his abuse.

‘The reason I worked up the courage to testify was so that my siblings wouldn’t have to go through the mental torment that I currently have,’ she told the court.

Argote’s wife Eugenia on a road trip with some of the family’s five children 

Maryland State Troopers were dispatched to the homes of other judges in the area and remained until Friday morning

The driveway of the Hagerstown home where Judge Wilkinson was killed in front of his family

At an earlier hearing in March, Judge Wilkinson said he had ‘the uneasy sense that Father engages in absolute control over Mother, their finances, and their lives’.

On the day of his death he said the family dynamics had become ‘crystal clear’ and denied Argote visitation rights to his four younger children, ages 12, 11, 5 and 3.

‘The manner in which Mr Argote has isolated these children and mom over the past two years, I think that has gone on throughout the marriage, and it’s shocking,’ the judge said.

‘I think he is abusive in multiple ways.’

In his judgement on Thursday, Wilkinson ruled that Argote’s wife would have ‘sole use and possession of the family home’, and that he was not to enter the property.

But Argote was not in court to hear the damning judgement having phoned in to say he had a ‘headache’.

‘I’m not sure that I find that believable,’ Wilkinson said, explaining his decision to proceed.

Eugenia’s attorney Erika Garrott Johnson told court claimed he was afraid to hear his family’s evidence, ‘and because he knows the writing is on the wall’.

Attorney Ashley Wilburn representing the children said she was worried for their safety, ‘particularly in light of the fact that Mr Argote did not show up today’.

But it was Judge Wilkinson who was in mortal danger after returning that evening to his home in Hagerston.

His wife Stephanie was at home with their son at 8pm as the judge was gunned down on the driveway, succumbing to his injuries a little while later in hospital.

Tributes poured in for the popular judge who volunteered as a Little League baseball and youth soccer coach, while being active in his local church.

US Senator Ben Cardin offered ‘condolences to Judge Wilkinson’s family, friends and all those touched by his public service’.

‘No one should have to endure the anguish of having a loved one ripped away in such a manner,’ he continued in a statement.

The judge’s murder sparked a nationwide hunt for Argote who disappeared in his Mercedes

Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert had told reporters police were ‘actively working’ to apprehend Argote for the  ‘targeted attack’ on the judge

‘There is no excuse for this kind of violence, especially against an officer of the court. The rule of law is what makes our society work. It may not be perfect, but individuals like Judge Wilkinson worked to make it better and more just every day.

‘His passion clearly was for serving his local community and for this, Judge Wilkinson will be sorely missed.’

Maryland Congressman David Trone said he was ‘shocked and heartbroken’ by the killing, adding: ‘This violence is horrifying to see in our community. 

‘Our thoughts are with his family during this unimaginable tragedy and with law enforcement investigating this crime.’

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