Son charged in murder of parents, including retired judge

By Jen Krausz on
 January 10, 2024

The son of a retired judge in Texas was charged with his murder as well as the murder of the judge's wife, his mother on Tuesday.

Former Williamson County Judge Burt Carnes and his wife Susan were found late Monday as police responded to reports of a shooting at the Carnes' home around 11:45 p.m.

Seth Carnes, the victims' son, was found exiting the home as police entered.

Carnes reportedly admitted to police that he shot his parents and was taken into custody early Tuesday morning.

No threat to public safety

The sheriff's office said the couple was found dead inside the residence and that there were signs of a family disagreement that led to the shooting.

The office emphasized that there was no threat to public safety, but the investigation is ongoing.

Seth Carnes remains in jail without bond, charged with capital murder.

"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 Criminal Investigations Division said in a press release. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family affected by this heartbreaking event.”

Law enforcement family

Judge Carnes was the son of an FBI agent and also had a Texas Ranger, a Border Patrol Agent and a Wilson County sheriff in the family.

He served 24 years on the bench before retiring in 2013. Both Burt and Susan Carnes were 74 years old.

“Early on, I decided that I was going to be a judge, not a politician,” he said during an interview at his retirement. “You’ve got to follow the law and within the bounds of the law, do what you think is right.”

“Judge Carnes was an exemplary judge — hardworking, fair and a judge/lawyer who knew the law,” state Rep. John Carter said of Carnes at the time. “Whenever I wanted to talk out an issue with anyone, Judge Carnes was my first choice because he was a smart lawyer and a smart judge.”

Highly respected community member

Seth Carnes is 45 years old and the motive for his alleged actions was not known when he was arrested.

The murders were a shock to the mid-size community of Georgetown, Texas, where Carnes was highly respected.


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