Former sergeant admits to murdering fellow soldier over reporting misconduct

A former Fort Stewart U.S. Army sergeant has entered a guilty plea in the stabbing death of a soldier at the base. RYON HORNE / RHORNE@AJC.COM

Jozsef Papp

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A former Fort Stewart sergeant admitted in federal court this week that he killed a fellow solider in June 2020.

Byron Booker, 29, admitted to stabbing Specialist Austin Hawk, 21, at Fort Stewart Military Reservation. Booker is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to premeditated murder of a member of the United States Uniformed Services, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

All other counts will be dismissed. As part of the plea agreement, Booker faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Byron Booker murdered a former fellow soldier in cold blood in retaliation for that soldier performing his duties as a service member,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, David Estes, himself a retired U.S. Army Colonel, said in a release. “The FBI and the Department of the Army Criminal Investigative Division did outstanding work in solving this despicable crime and bringing Booker to justice.”

A former Fort Stewart U.S. Army sergeant has entered a guilty plea in the stabbing death of a soldier at the base. RYON HORNE / RHORNE@AJC.COM

Co-defendant Jordan Brown, 21, is still awaiting further proceedings on charges of conspiracy, assault upon a member of the United States Uniformed Services, conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, retaliation against a witness with bodily injury, retaliation against a witness with killing, murder of a member of the United States Uniformed Services and premeditated murder.

Booker, who served as an U.S. Army sergeant, and Brown discussed “silencing” Hawk in retaliation. According to the indictment, Hawk reported Booker to Army leadership for “poor leadership, poor military performance and maltreatment of subordinates” before Booker’s Army discharged and Hawk reported Brown for drug use during his service.

The indictment said Brooke drove from his home on June 17, 2020 to Fort Stewart and entered the base on foot before walking to Hawk’s barracks with a key provided by Brown to access Hawk’s room.

After gaining entrance to Hawk’s barracks room, Booker “slashed and stabbed Hawk repeatedly with a sharp-edged weapon,” according to the plea agreement. Booker disposed of his clothes and shoes after leaving the scene, according to the indictment.

Hawk received 40 separate stab or slash wounds, a medical examiner noted. His body was found in the barracks the next day.

“Booker’s plea is a direct result of the hard work and persistence put in by the FBI Savannah Resident Agency and our partners at the U.S. Army and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia,” 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 justice will be served.”

Booker was taken into custody on June 18, 2020, while Brown was arrested after the indictment was issued in April 2021.

©2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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