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

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A former U.S. Army sergeant faces life in prison after he admitted he stabbed a fellow soldier to death in June 2020.

Byron Booker, 29, pleaded guilty to the murder of 21-year-old Army soldier Austin James Hawk.

David H. Estes, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said in a release obtained by WSB-TV that Booker faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.

“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. Estes, 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.”

According to WSB, Booker admitted that he and a fellow soldier, Jordan Brown, discussed “silencing” Hawk, at Fort Stewart Military Reservation, in retaliation for Hawk reporting Brown to U.S. Army leadership for smoking marijuana.

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 the plea agreement.

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

Brown, 21, awaits trial 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.

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

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