A reward of $10,000 has been announced by the U.S. Marshals Service for information leading to the arrest of Pedro Argote, 49, the prime suspect in the fatal shooting of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson. The incident is believed to be a targeted attack following Judge Wilkinson’s decision to grant Argote’s estranged wife sole custody of their four children.
Officials disclosed that hours prior to the shooting, Wilkinson had overseen a divorce hearing for Argote, granting his wife an absolute divorce and barring Argote from contacting the family. The judgment, citing “cruelty of treatment” and “irreconcilable differences”, also mandated Argote to pay $1,120 monthly in child support.
Argote, who failed to attend the hearing, reportedly has connections in New York, Indiana, Florida, and North Carolina. He is believed to be dangerous and possibly driving a silver 2009 Mercedes GL 450.
Earlier in June 2022, Argote’s wife had filed a domestic violence petition alleging physical abuse towards one of their daughters, claiming she felt threatened due to Argote’s possession of a weapon. She also accused him of harassment and financial control. The petition, however, was dismissed within weeks for reasons not clarified. Washington County Sheriff Brian K. Albert emphasized that the motive behind the fatal shooting was the judge’s custody verdict.