Search ramps up for man accused of killing Maryland judge after divorce proceeding

ByEm Nguyen ABCNews logo
Monday, October 23, 2023
Day 5 of search for man accused of killing Maryland judge
Authorities accuse Pedro Argote of shooting and killing Judge Andrew Wilkinson because the judge ruled against him in a child custody case.

A Maryland suburb of Washington D.C. is on edge as police expand their search for the man accused of murdering a local judge in cold blood, while his family was at home.

It's day five in the urgent manhunt for a father accused of killing the Maryland Circuit Court judge who ruled against him in a divorce and child custody case.

Police said 49-year-old Pedro Argote has been on the run since Thursday after he allegedly shot and killed Judge Andrew Wilkinson outside his home, just hours after the judge awarded Argote's estranged wife full custody of their children. The judge also barred Argote from having any contact with his ex-wife and their four kids, unless she approved.

"We think Judge Wilkinson was targeted," said Washington County, Maryland, Sheriff Brian Albert.

Argote's 2009 silver Mercedes SUV was found in a wooded area about eight miles from the scene of the murder.

"We'll pull the computers, GPS is from it. And then the contents obviously if we find anything in the vehicle," Sheriff Albert said.

The community is in shock, mourning the judge who was known as a soft-spoken family man.

"This is it's not fair. It's not right. I'm going to remember that he encouraged people and served people," said former Maryland state delegate, Neil Parrott.

Judge Wilkinson is the third state judge in three years shot by someone who had a case before their court. And in the last two years, there have been more than 7,000 threats against federal judges.

National court leaders have decried this a "troubling trend," saying "attacks in recent years on the rule of law... Are now having their effects." Now, there are some renewing calls for more judicial security.

Officials are offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. The suspect has ties to multiple states, like New York and Florida, and authorities said he should be considered armed and dangerous.