Cops Find Judge Shot Dead in Texas

Authorities checking on a state judge who failed to show up for work found him dead in the den of his home Monday, a semiautomatic pistol and spent shell casing lying nearby.

Police are investigating to determine if the gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

The body of State District Judge Ed Aparicio (search), 46, was found shortly after a news release was issued announcing he was resigning to dedicate more time to his family and to personal family matters that required immediate attention. The release did not elaborate.

"The demands of my position as your judge have unfortunately taken a toll on my personal life," the release said.

A telephone call to the judge's attorney Monday was not immediately returned.

Sheriff Lupe Trevino said he and one of his captains found the body after the judge did not show up to work. He said they found Aparicio's body sitting on the floor in a large pool of blood in the corner of a den. The gun and shell casing were nearby. All the doors of the house were locked.

Weslaco police spokesman David Molina said he wasn't aware of a suicide note being found.

Aparicio's chambers and home had been the target of an FBI (search) search in January 2004, when an anti-corruption task force seized dozens of paintings, photos and documents. Federal prosecutors have declined to release details of the search or say what prompted it.

The highly publicized raid didn't stop Hidalgo County (search) voters from re-electing him to a third term in March 2004. The former Houston attorney was first elected judge in 1997.

Weslaco is a town of about 25,000 people in the southern tip of Texas near the Mexican border.