20 October 2023

US circuit court judge fatally shot in driveway of his home

20 October 2023

A US circuit court judge has been fatally shot in the driveway of his Maryland home, police said.

Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was found with gunshot wounds around 8pm local time on Thursday (1am on Friday BST), the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

He was taken from his home in Hagerstown to Meritus Medical Centre, where he died of his injuries.

Court records show that the judge had presided over the divorce case of a man identified as a person of interest in the killing.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said it was searching for 49-year-old Pedro Argote in connection with the shooting.

An investigation is under way, with state troopers deployed overnight as a precaution to protect judges who live in Washington County, state police spokesperson Elena Russo added.

Judge Wilkinson was sworn in as a circuit court judge in 2020. The 1994 University of North Carolina graduate received his law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1997 and then became a circuit court law clerk in Washington County.

At his swearing-in ceremony, Judge Wilkinson said he wanted to become a judge to serve the community, The Herald-Mail reported.

“It’s an honour and it’s humbling, and I’m happy to serve,” he said.

Judge Wilkinson thanked retired Judge Frederick C Wright III for guiding his career. His military family had moved around, but when Judge Wright hired his mother as a law clerk in 1983, Hagerstown became his home.

In Maryland, circuit courts in each county handle serious criminal and civil cases, including many that are appealed from the lower-level district courts, according to the state courts website.

The city of nearly 44,000 lies about 75 miles north-west of Baltimore in the panhandle of Maryland, near the state lines of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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