Retired judge and his wife are shot dead by adult son after he refused sleeping pill

Thursday, January 11, 2024
 – A retired Texas judge and his wife have been found dead inside their home from shotgun wounds, leading to the arrest of their adult son.

Seth Carnes, 45, was arrested Monday night, Jan. 8,  and charged with capital murder in the slayings of former Williamson County Judge Alfred “Burt” Carnes and Susan Carnes, both 74.

Police say Carnes admitted to the double murders of his parents just before midnight on Monday, Jan. 8, because he did not want to take a sleeping pill.

Seth Carnes allegedly told detectives he did not really know what happened, but was aware that he had shot his parents with a Remington 870 shotgun he kept on the nightstand in his parents’ converted garage, where he lived, according to an arrest affidavit cited by Fox 7 Austin.

The son allegedly said he believed his mother was trying to put a sleeping pill into his mouth that he didn’t want to take. He indicated there was no reason for him to shoot his mother other than the sleeping pill, the document read.

When an investigator asked why Carnes shot his father, he was quoted as saying: “I’ve just been looking for something and figured I would finish the job.”

Shortly before midnight Monday, Seth Carnes’ daughter called 911, saying her father had shot her grandfather, according to a press release from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies rushed to the Carnes family’s home outside Georgetown, Texas, where they came face to face with Seth Carnes, who walked out of the house with one hand up and the other holding a coffee mug, and allegedly said he had just killed his parents.

The officers entered the house and found Alfred Carnes dead on the living room floor, with a shotgun and a spent shell lying in the kitchen area.

Susan Carnes’ body was found in her son’s bedroom.

The former judge had injuries to his elbow, inner forearm and the left side of his rib cage, the affidavit stated. His wife apparently had been shot in the left shoulder and collarbone, where paramedics applied bandages in a failed attempt to save her life.

“The preliminary investigation suggests that the murders resulted from a disagreement, escalating into family violence and death,” the sheriff’s office said.

Alfred Carnes, the son of an FBI agent, came from a family of law enforcement officers, including a Texas Ranger and a Border Patrol agent, reported the Austin American-Statesman. He retired from the 368th District Court in 2013 after serving 24 years on the bench.

Susan Carnes was a retired elementary school teacher who was described by a family friend as a “pillar of the community.”

“This deeply distressing incident has sent shockwaves through our community, particularly considering Alfred ‘Burt’ Carnes’ esteemed position as a retired District Judge,” Commander John Foster, of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, said in the news release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family affected by this heartbreaking event.”

Seth Carnes is being held in the Williamson County Jail without bond. Capital murder in Texas is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

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