The man accused of killing Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson in the driveway of his Maryland home was found dead Thursday, the sheriff’s office said.
After a weeklong manhunt, Pedro Argote's body was located in a heavily wooded area near Clear Spring Road and Bottom Road in Williamsport, Maryland, authorities said. His silver Mercedes was found about a mile away on Saturday, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Argote's remains will be transferred to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore to determine when and how he died, Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert said during a press conference Thursday.
Officials said Argote targeted Wilkinson, 52, at his home on Oct. 19 after the judge awarded his estranged wife a divorce and custody of their four kids earlier that day.
According to The Associated Press, the judge ruled against Argote after hearing “shocking” testimony from his wife and an adult daughter, who said he controlled every aspect of their lives and subjected them to various acts of violence.
Argote’s four younger children are ages 12, 11, 5 and 3, The Associated Press reported.
The messy legal battle that investigators believe led to the crime began last year when Argote filed for divorce.
According to court filings obtained by The Associated Press, Argote accused his wife of failing to properly homeschool and supervise their children; but in a countercomplaint, she accused Argote of "cruel treatment” and filed a protective order days later, saying he was harassing her and threatening to abuse their daughter.
A judge granted the order, but it was dismissed weeks later at the wife's request when the pair came to a mutual living agreement, The Associated Press said.
"It’s relief, but it's still a tragedy that we’re dealing with," said Sheriff Albert. He added Wilkinson's family now has some bit of closure but it doesn't take away from the tragedy of his death.
Albert also said there will likely be more discussions about security for judges in the future.
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