Police Launch Manhunt After Judge Wilkinson Murdered Outside Maryland Home
Police in Washington County, Maryland have launched an extensive manhunt for a suspect wanted for the murder of a local judge gunned down right outside his home. 52-year-old Judge Andrew Wilkinson, an associate judge on the Washington County Circuit Court, was killed in a premeditated ambush shooting the night of January 26, 2023.
Authorities have identified the primary suspect as 49-year-old Pedro Argote and warn he should be considered armed and dangerous. An arrest warrant has been issued charging Argote with first and second degree murder for the calculated attack that took Wilkinson’s life.
Judge Wilkinson Found Fatally Shot in Home Driveway Just before 8 p.m. on Thursday night, police responded to reports of shots fired on Olde Waterford Road in Hagerstown, Maryland. Arriving officers discovered Judge Wilkinson critically injured from gunshot wounds in the driveway of his residence.
Emergency medical personnel rushed Wilkinson to Meritus Medical Center, but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Based on evidence from the scene, investigators swiftly determined the fatal shooting was an intentional, targeted attack rather than a random act.
Police Believe Suspect Retaliated Over Lost Divorce Case Further investigation uncovered that murder suspect Pedro Argote had a direct connection to the slain Judge Wilkinson – a divorce lawsuit involving Argote recently overseen by Wilkinson that did not go in Argote’s favor.
Court records show bitter divorce proceedings had been underway between Argote and his estranged wife in Washington County Circuit Court. Judge Wilkinson had presided over the contentious case and earlier on the very day of the shooting held a hearing related to the disputed divorce litigation.
The suspect Pedro Argote himself did not appear in Wilkinson’s courtroom for that hearing Thursday morning. But mere hours after the judge’s adverse ruling against him, Argote allegedly carried out an act of vengeance by murdering Wilkinson right in the driveway of his Hagerstown home.
Security Footage Captures SUV Fleeing Scene Home security cameras in the neighborhood captured footage of a silver SUV speeding away after the sounds of the fatal gunshots targeting Wilkinson. The vehicle matched the description of the Mercedes SUV owned by suspect Pedro Argote.
This and other evidence suggests the cold-blooded shooting was a preplanned ambush deliberately carried out as retribution for the judge’s handling of Argote’s divorce case.
Law Enforcement Devoting Extensive Resources to Manhunt In response to the brutal murder of a sitting judge, law enforcement agencies across Maryland and beyond have deployed extensive resources to locating and apprehending suspect Pedro Argote. His silver Mercedes SUV was recovered abandoned in Williamsport, not far from the crime scene.
A $10,000 reward has been offered by the U.S. Marshals Service for information directly leading to the arrest of Argote. Federal, state, and county law enforcement officials are warning the public not to engage with Argote themselves if spotted but to immediately contact the authorities.
The multi-agency manhunt involves the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service pursuing leads on Argote’s possible location. He is known to have ties to various other regions like New York, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Added Security Enhanced for Maryland Judicial Officials Out of precaution following the assassination of Judge Wilkinson outside his home, extra security measures have been implemented to protect other judicial figures in the area until the murder suspect is apprehended.
The case has sent shockwaves through Maryland’s legal community and highlighted the real dangers faced by judges for merely fulfilling their duties. But officials are hopeful the intensified search for Pedro Argote will result in his swift arrest and justice for the slain Judge Andrew Wilkinson.
Friends Mourn Loss of Judge Wilkinson’s Devotion to Community Friends, colleagues and neighbors expressed their profound grief over the loss of Judge Wilkinson, who was highly regarded in the area for his fairness, temperament and community devotion.
Wilkinson was born in Guam but had deep roots in Washington County, Maryland. The 52-year-old judge was a University of North Carolina and Emory Law School graduate who coached youth sports and was an active longtime member of the local Catholic church.
Appointed to the Circuit Court in 2020, Wilkinson previously served as an assistant county attorney and was known for his commitment to public service. His tragic murder has left Maryland’s legal community reeling, but reminded of the potential dangers judges face for merely fulfilling their duties.
For now, law enforcement officials remain fully focused on expediting the search for suspect Pedro Argote. Capturing the alleged killer wanted for the coldblooded murder of Judge Andrew Wilkinson remains the top priority in delivering justice.