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Ex-wife of a man suspected in killing of Maryland judge accused him of child abuse last year, documents show

The ex-wife of a man suspected of gunning down a Maryland judge after he gave her custody of their children accused her ex-husband last year of physically abusing one the kids, according to a court filing obtained Friday by NBC News.

The petition for a protection order, filed June 12, 2022 in Washington County District Court, also accused Pedro Argote, 49, of harassment via text messages, constant monitoring through security cameras and threats to take custody of their children, ages 12, 11, 5, and 3, over false claims of neglect.

In the petition, the ex-wife wrote there was no longer physical violence against the 11-year-old because during the most recent episode, she got in between the two and said that for him “to get to her he needed to hit me or kill me,” the petition says, adding that he tried to push her away.

Pedro Argote.Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland

“I am not taking this anymore,” she wrote. “I will protect my child.”

The petition accused Argote of mistreating the 11-year-old for years. The ex-wife had sought help from a domestic violence advocacy center in 2012, petition says, adding that she didn’t get the assistance she needed.

She had also sought help from relatives, the petition says, but Argote asked them to leave their home.

The petition was dismissed two weeks after it was filed. It isn’t clear why. A lawyer for the ex-wife did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In response to an interview request, the lawyer, Erika Johnson, said in an earlier email that she was unable to comment “given the ongoing nature of the investigation.”

Johnson said she had no information about the fatal shooting of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson, 52, who was found dead in the driveway of his Hagerstown home hours after he granted the woman a divorce.

Wilkinson gave the ex-wife custody of their children and banned Argote from contacting or visiting them, according to a copy of the partial divorce judgment obtained by NBC News.

The judge ordered Argote to pay $1,120 a month in child support and banned him from entering the family’s home, according to the judgment.

maryland judge killed murdered
Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Wilkinson.WRC

The judgment attributed the decision to a finding of “cruelty of treatment” and “irreconcilable differences.” 

The document does not provide additional details about the finding.

Washington County Sheriff Brian K. Albert said earlier Friday that the shooting was in response to the judge’s custody decision. Argote was not in custody and should be considered armed and dangerous, Albert said.

Johnson said she had no information about Argote’s whereabouts.

“Our hearts ache for Judge Wilkinson’s family, and we are praying for them and for those searching for the suspect,” she said. “Judge Wilkinson was a kind, caring, and compassionate individual. He will be truly missed.”