(RightWing.org) – On May 2, 2020, United States Army Specialist Austin Hawk made the correct yet fateful decision to perform his duty while serving at the Fort Stewart Military Reservation in Georgia. He told his immediate superior he believed two fellow soldiers, Jordan Brown and Byron Booker, had been smoking marijuana, which is a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). In the end, one man was dead, and two others pled guilty to charges related to his killing. The following descriptions are taken from Booker’s plea agreement and are, therefore, not considered allegations but facts.
On May 8, before any investigations could gain traction, Booker completed his tour of duty and received an honorable discharge at the rank of sergeant. On the other hand, Brown remained in the military and was ordered to submit to a drug test which returned positive for THC, and on June 2, the unit’s commanding officer informed him he was being kicked out of the Army.
Brown was furious because he was losing his position, paycheck, and a place to live, and like so many caught in the act, he did not take responsibility for himself, but instead, he blamed Hawk. His buddy Booker had traveled out of state to take another job, got fired shortly afterward, and returned to Georgia, which started the clock ticking on Hawk’s life, though he had no idea.
Brown and Booker began plotting ways to retaliate against Hawk, including a physical beat down and trashing of either his car or his barracks room. However, Booker decided that was not sufficient for the “snitch” and began pushing for a more permanent way to resolve the issue.
As things progressed, Brown phoned his girlfriend to tell her he was being kicked out of the Army, and she ended the relationship. He, of course, blamed it on Hawk. Just after midnight on June 17, 2020, Booker snuck onto the base and got Hawk to let him into his room and then attacked him “with a sharp-edged weapon.” The autopsy showed at least 40 different stab/slash wounds, several of which would have been fatal in and of themselves.
Both Booker and Brown were originally indicted in April 2021 on a litany of charges, including several murder specifications that could have led to the death penalty. However, by confessing and entering into plea deals, they will both avoid that fate.
Booker pled guilty to “Premeditated Murder of a Member of the United States Uniformed Services” and has been sentenced to life in prison for which there is no parole in the federal system. Brown is awaiting acceptance of his plea deal by the judge and sentencing of up to 20 years in prison.
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