Retired Judge and Wife Murdered by Son Over Sleeping Pills

In a shocking incident near Austin, Texas, a retired judge and his wife were tragically killed in their home, with their son being the prime suspect. Seth B. Carnes, 45, is facing capital murder charges for the alleged killing of his parents, Alfred “Burt” Carnes and Susan H. Carnes, both aged 74.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call about a shooting late Monday night in the Georgetown area. Upon arrival, deputies encountered Seth Carnes leaving the premises. According to a press release, Carnes confessed to the deputies that he had shot his parents. The deputies subsequently discovered the bodies of Alfred and Susan Carnes inside the house, both victims of gunshot wounds.

Seth Carnes was promptly arrested and is currently being held at the Williamson County Jail without bond. If found guilty, he could face life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Investigators are of the opinion that a family dispute escalated into the fatal incident.

Details from the probable cause arrest affidavit, obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, reveal a chilling account. Seth Carnes allegedly told deputies he killed his mother because he believed she was attempting to force a sleeping pill into his mouth, which he refused to take. When questioned about his father’s death, his response was reportedly, “I was just looking for something and figured I would finish it off.”

The weapon used in the crime, a Remington 870 shotgun, was reportedly kept by Seth Carnes’ bedside. He resided in a garage apartment at his parents’ home, where his mother’s body was found. His father was discovered about 5 feet from a recliner in the living room.

The incident has left the community in shock, particularly due to Alfred “Burt” Carnes’ respected position as a retired District Judge. Cmdr. John Foster of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division expressed his condolences, stating, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family affected by this heartbreaking event.”

Williamson County Sheriff Mike Gleason also expressed his sorrow, praising Mr. Carnes as a respected and admired figure known for his fair and compassionate approach to justice. Burt Carnes retired in 2013 after serving 24 years in the 368th District Court in Williamson County. His wife, Susan Carnes, had a nearly 30-year career as an elementary school teacher.

Burt Carnes was known for his strict courtroom demeanor, including enforcing a dress code. He once shared his judicial philosophy with the American-Statesman, stating, “I have a belief that the judge has to control the courtroom, to make it a fair trial. If the judge isn’t in control, one of the lawyers is going to be in control and then it isn’t a level playing field. I believe everybody should show respect and follow the rules. That includes dressing appropriately.”