According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, a former U.S. Army sergeant has admitted he stabbed to death a former fellow soldier whose body was found in his Fort Stewart barracks room in June 2020.
Byron Booker, 29, of Ludowici, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Premeditated Murder of a Member of the United States Uniformed Services, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. In accordance with his plea agreement, Booker faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison, and 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,” said U.S. Attorney Estes, himself a retired U.S. Army Colonel. “The FBI and the Department of the Army Criminal Investigative Division did outstanding work in solving this despicable crime and bringing Booker to justice.”
Booker’s co-defendant, Jordan Brown, 21, of St. Marys, Ga., awaits 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. He is considered innocent unless or until proven guilty.
Booker, a former U.S. Army sergeant, admitted he and Brown discussed “silencing” Specialist Austin J. Hawk, 21, at Fort Stewart Military Reservation, in retaliation for Hawk reporting Brown to U.S. Army leadership for marijuana use. As described in the plea agreement, 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.” A medical examiner later noted that Hawk received 40 separate stab or slash wounds.
Hawk’s body was found in his Fort Stewart barracks room the next day.
“The collective response by the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to this murder exemplifies the phenomenal teamwork between the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Georgia,” said Rusty Higgason, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the CID Southeast Field Office. “From the CID forensic science technicians who responded from multiple locations to process the scene, to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory and the FBI Crime Lab, who processed hundreds of pieces of evidence, the entire team did an outstanding job.”
“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,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “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.”
U.S. Attorney Estes also commended the work of CID Forensic Science Technicians from Fort Stewart, Fort Bragg, Fort Gordon, and Fort Jackson, and from the analysts with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory and the FBI Crime Lab.
The Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI are investigating the case, which is being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer G. Solari and Darron J. Hubbard.