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The US Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of Pedro Argote, 49, the suspect in the targeted killing of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson.
The deadly incident occurred shortly after Judge Wilkinson granted custody of Argote’s four children to his estranged wife. Argote, who has connections in Brooklyn, Long Island, Columbus, Indiana, Tampa, Clearwater, and unspecified regions in North Carolina, is believed to be on the run and “should be considered armed and dangerous,” potentially driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL 450.
The shooting comes on the heels of a contentious divorce proceeding presided over by Judge Wilkinson. The judge had granted Argote’s wife an “absolute divorce,” along with sole legal custody of their children, following a hearing that Argote did not attend. The verdict referenced “cruelty of treatment” and “irreconcilable differences” as its foundation.
In addition to the custody decision, the judge mandated that Argote avoid contacting his children or his ex-wife. Argote was also prohibited from entering the family residence and was instructed to pay monthly child support. Sheriff Brian K. Albert of Washington County mentioned that the shooting was tied to the judge’s custody ruling.
Previously, Argote’s wife had claimed domestic violence, fearing for her safety and the well-being of her children. However, these allegations were dismissed due to an asserted lack of evidence.