It was about midnight on June 17th, 2020. A figure entered the Fort Stewart barracks room of Army Specialist Austin Hawk and viscously stabbed him more than 40 times, leaving him for dead. The killer struck multiple blows to Hawk’s head, neck, and torso. In addition, a deep three-inch slash was made across the victim’s throat, completely severing his jugular vein. Someone wanted him dead, and they got their wish.

photo of specialist Hawk
Specialist Austin J. Hawk was stabbed to death in his barracks room on Fort Stewart, Georgia, on June 17th, 2020. Image from GoFundMe

According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and as reported by ArmyTimes, a former Army Sergeant pleaded guilty to the brutal murder. Twenty-nine-year-old Byron Booker of Ludowici, Georgia, admitted to the pre-meditated killing of Hawk. The reason? He reported his fellow soldiers for marijuana use. Marijuana is legal for use (either recreationally or for medical purposes) in all but 12 states. At a federal level, however, it remains a banned Schedule I drug. In October of 2022, President Biden called for the reform of federal marijuana laws.

Documents provided by the US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia, state that Booker awaits sentencing for the Premeditated Murder of a Member of the United States Uniformed Services. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

US Attorney David Estes, a retired US Army Colonel, stated, “Byron Booker murdered a former fellow soldier in cold blood in retaliation for that soldier performing his duties as a service member.” He continued,