On Tuesday, a former U.S. Army sergeant who admitted stabbing a fellow soldier in 2020 at their barracks in Fort Stewart, Georgia was given a life sentence in federal prison.
The 29-year-old Ludowici, Georgia resident Byron Booker pleaded guilty to premeditated murder in October of 2017 for his role in the savage stabbing death of Spc. Austin J. Hawk.
Booker was fined an extra $2,500 by U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker. In the United States federal prison system, parole is not an option.
Co-defendant Jordan Brown, 21, from St. Marys, Georgia, pled guilty in December 2022 to assault with bodily injury or a deadly weapon against a U.S. servicemember and retaliation against a witness with bodily injury. Brown is currently awaiting sentencing.
According to testimony presented in court, Booker and Brown conspired to kill Hawk after he reported Brown to higher-ups for using marijuana.
Since Hawk had recently been promoted to the rank of squad leader and drug use is a punishable offence according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he was obligated to report any such incidents to the appropriate authorities.
According to the evidence presented in court, Booker and Brown eventually reached a consensus that Hawk should be punished for “snitching.”
Booker, according to federal prosecutors, “illegally” entered Fort Stewart Military Reservation from a mile distance on June 17, 2020, and then “illegally” entered Hawk’s barracks room.
When he got inside the barracks room, he “slashed and stabbed Hawk repeatedly with a sharp-edged weapon,” as stated in the court documents.
The medical examiner found 40 individual stab or slash wounds on Hawk, in addition to a wounded hand. The next day, his body was discovered in his barracks room.
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley said in a statement, “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.”