Former Soldiers Charged In Stabbing Death Of Another Soldier

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Two former soldiers have been indicted on charges including murder in the death of another soldier who was found stabbed to death in his room on a Georgia military base, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Byron Booker, 28, of Ludowici, and Jordan Brown, 21, of St. Marys, are charged in the June 2020 death of 24-year-old Austin J. Hawk at the U.S. Army's Fort Stewart.

Amy Lee Copeland, a lawyer for Brown, said in an email Monday that she doesn't comment on pending cases. A.J. Balbo, a lawyer for Booker, said in an email that his client “is entitled to the presumption of innocence throughout this process.”

The indictment says the two men conspired to retaliate against Hawk for reporting Booker to Army leadership for “poor leadership, poor military performance, and maltreatment of subordinates” and for reporting Brown for using drugs. In mid-June the Booker and Brown discussed “silencing” Hawk and discussed different ways to do that, including beating him, poisoning him and smothering him with a pillow and discussed Brown providing Booker with a key to Hawk's room so he “could enter without authority and ‘silence’ Specialist Hawk,” the indictment says.

Booker left his home in Ludowici on June 17, purposely leaving his cellphone at home to create an alibi and avoid detection by law enforcement, and drove to a parking lot near Fort Stewart, the indictment says. He entered the Army post and walked about a mile to Hawk's barracks. He then “stabbed, cut and slashed” Hawk and then, after leaving Fort Stewart on foot, he got rid of the clothes and shoes he'd been wearing, the indictment says.

Booker has been in custody since June 18, and Brown was taken into custody after a grand jury returned the indictment against him last week, prosecutors said in a news release.

“It is a high priority for our office to pursue justice for members of the military who are victims of violent crime,” Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes said in a news release Monday.

Booker is charged with premeditated murder and murder of a member of the U.S. uniformed services. Both Booker and Brown are charged with felony murder, assault upon a member of the U.S. uniformed services, burglary and retaliation against a witness, as well as conspiracy charges.

The murder charges carry possible sentences of mandatory life in prison or death.