Suspect in killing of Maryland judge found dead

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) -A Maryland man sought in the shooting death of the judge who presided over his divorce case has been found dead, police said on Thursday.

The body of Pedro Argote, 49, was found in a wooded area near Williamsport, Maryland, during a search for evidence in the case, Washington County Sheriff Brian Albert told an afternoon news conference.

"Everybody should sleep a little bit better tonight," Albert said.

The sheriff declined to comment on Argote's cause of death, saying that law enforcement officials would not release further information until an autopsy was conducted on the remains.

Maryland Circuit Court Associate Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, was found outside his home in Hagerstown around 8 p.m. on Oct. 19, with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The search for Argote spread to several states after his car was found a few days later near Hagerstown, a small city near the Pennsylvania border.

Argote, who legally owned a gun, was scheduled to attend a divorce hearing on the day of the shooting, but failed to show up.

Albert said he and several members of his department had come to the press conference after attending a viewing for Wilkerson.

"The family was relieved that we brought this to a little bit of closure," he said.

Wilkinson granted a divorce to Argote's wife, according to court papers. Media accounts said his former wife was given custody of their four minor children.

Albert said police were sent to Argote's Washington County home a few times on "domestic calls," but no arrests were ever made and that Argote did not have a police record.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Rich McKay; Editing by Bill Berkrot)