A federal judge has sentenced a former Army sergeant who pleaded guilty to the stabbing death of a fellow soldier to life in prison. A second co-defendant awaits sentencing.
Byron Booker, 29, of Ludowici, Georgia, accepted a plea agreement in October 2022 and pleaded guilty to “premeditated murder of a member of the United States Uniformed Services.” He will serve a life sentence without parole.
The grisly barracks murder happened on June 7, 2020, in the victim’s Fort Stewart, Georgia barracks room, according to court documents.
Then-Sgt. Booker admitted he and then-Spc. Jordan Brown, 21, of St. Marys, Georgia discussed “silencing” Spc. Austin J. Hawk, 21, in retaliation for Hawk reporting Brown to Army leadership for marijuana use.
“After gaining entry to Hawk’s barracks room shortly after midnight on June 17, 2020, Booker ‘slashed and stabbed Hawk repeatedly with a sharp-edged weapon,’” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release.
A medical examiner later reported Hawk received 40 separate stabs or slash wounds, many of which would have been fatal individually.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Estes, a retired Army Colonel.
Hawk’s body was found in his barracks room the day after the murder.
Brown awaits sentencing after he entered his own guilty plea in December 2022 to “assault upon a U.S. servicemember involving bodily injury and retaliation against a witness involving bodily injury.”
His plea agreement stipulates that he could serve between 16.5 and 20 years in prison, according to a previous prosecutor’s release.