The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A former U.S. Army sergeant who admitted to the fatal stabbing of a soldier at Fort Stewart in 2020 has been sentenced to life in prison.
Byron Booker, 29, had previously pleaded guilty to premeditated murder of a member of the United States Uniformed Services in the death of U.S. Army Specialist Austin Hawk. All other counts against Booker were dismissed.
Booker is also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
“Byron Booker squandered his own military career by illegally using drugs, and then murdered a former fellow soldier in cold blood in retaliation for that soldier honorably performing his duties,” U.S. Attorney David Estes, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, said in a release. “The sentence of life in prison with no parole will serve a measure of justice for Austin Hawk’s family, while affirming the outstanding investigative work that led to Booker’s conviction.”
Booker and co-defendant Jordan Brown had discussions about “silencing” Hawk after Hawk reported Booker to Army leadership for “poor leadership, poor military performance and maltreatment of subordinates” before Booker’s Army discharge.
Hawk also reported Brown for drug use during his service, which resulted in Brown facing a preliminary inquiry for a court martial proceeding.
According to the indictment, Booker drove from his home on June 17, 2020 to Fort Stewart and entered the base on foot before walking to Hawk’s barracks. Booker used a key provided by Brown to access Hawk’s room.
After entering Hawk’s room, Booker “slashed and stabbed Hawk repeatedly with a sharp-edged weapon,” according to court documents. Booker disposed of his clothes and shoes after leaving the scene.
“This sentence represents a measure of justice for Austin Hawk, a man who was murdered for simply following the rules,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a release. “Hawk’s family and friends will never be rid of the pain this senseless murder has caused them, but hopefully it gives them some sense of resolve to know that Booker will spend the rest of his life in prison.”
A medical examiner noted Hawk received 40 separate stab or slash wounds. His body was found in the barracks the following day.
Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to assault upon a U.S. service member involving bodily injury or a deadly weapon and retaliation against a witness involving bodily injury in December. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 9 in Savannah.
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