Former Army soldier of Camden Co. pleads guilty in attack that killed Fort Stewart servicemember

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A second former U.S. Army service member has pleaded guilty in an attack that killed U.S. Army specialist Austin J. Hawk, 21.


Action News Jax first brought you the story in October that Byron Booker, 29, admitted to stabbing Hawk 40 times. The reason behind the murder was that Hawk had reported co-defendant Joran Brown, 21, to U.S. Army leadership for smoking marijuana.

Related Story: Ex-Army soldier admits to stabbing fellow soldier 40 times for reporting marijuana use

Brown discussed “silencing” Hawk in retaliation for a court martial that was taking place against him due to Hawk’s reporting of Brown’s marijuana use.

“Jordan Brown of St. Marys, Georgia, awaits sentencing after entering a plea of guilty to assault upon a U.S. servicemember involving bodily injury or a deadly weapon, and retaliation against a witness involving bodily injury, “said David H. Estes, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

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After getting into Hawk’s barracks room shortly after midnight on June 17, 2020, Booker “slashed and stabbed Hawk repeatedly with a sharp-edged weapon”, according to Booker’s plea agreement back in October.

Hawk’s body was found with 40 separate stab or slash wounds in his Fort Stewart barracks room the next day.

The terms of the plea agreement, which U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker will consider at sentencing in deciding whether to accept the plea, will have Brown looking at a sentence of no less than 198 months in prison and no more than 240 months.

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“The guilty pleas of these two defendants firmly establish their culpability in the despicable murder of a former soldier in retaliation for performing his [Hawk’s] duties as a service member,” said Estes, himself a retired U.S. Army colonel. “They will not be held accountable for their bloody conspiracy.”

Brown’s co-defendant, Booker, awaits sentencing after previously pleading guilty to premeditated murder of a member of the United States Uniformed Services. Booker is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison as a result of his plea agreement.

Rusty Higgason, assistant special agent-in-charge of the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division Southeast Field Office, released this statement in response to Brown’s admission of guilt in the attack:

“The joint response by the Department of Defense and 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 for the Southern District of Georgia,” said Higgason. “The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory and the FBI Crime Lab analyzed hundreds of pieces of evidence, and the CID forensic science professionals that responded from various locations to process the site did an amazing job. I would also like to highlight the relentless, behind-the-scenes work by investigative analysts who meticulously reviewed an extraordinary amount of documents, images, video recordings and digital data in this investigation.”

—  Rusty Higgason, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the CID Southeast Field Office

The Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI are investigating the case.