Bryan Starr is charged with reckless murder in connection with the death of 5-year-old Austin Birdseye

By Steve Helling
December 01, 2020 03:50 PM
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Credit: Russell County Sheriff

An Alabama man has been charged with murder after authorities say he made his girlfriend's misbehaving 5-year-old son get out of his car — and the child was subsequently hit and killed by another vehicle.

In a Monday news conference, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said that 35-year-old Bryan Starr showed a "reckless disregard" for the boy's safety, according to The Ledger-Enquirer.

Authorities say that Starr ordered Austin Birdseye, 5, out of his car on a dark, rainy night. Starr allegedly told investigators that Austin began acting “unruly” in his car. Starr allegedly said that he pulled into a church parking lot and ordered the boy out of his Dodge Charger.

The boy's mother was not in the vehicle.

According to authorities, Starr then lost sight of the boy. He allegedly told authorities that he saw cars stopped on the road and realized that the boy had been struck by another vehicle. Police say the driver of the other car was not at fault.

Birdseye later died from his injuries at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital.

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In the press conference, Sheriff Taylor said Starr has been charged with reckless murder. Taylor then expressed disbelief at Starr's alleged actions.

"He has no idea where he is or how to get home," he said about the boy, according to KMOV-TV. "Who thinks to tell a five-year-old to get out of a car because they're being potentially loud?"

Starr is an active-duty Army sergeant stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, he has served for 17 years, including a combat deployment to Iraq. He’s assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade.

Ben Garrett, a spokesman from Fort Benning, issued a statement saying the Army post will cooperate with the investigation. "We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased," Garrett said. He added that Starr has turned himself in.

Starr remains in custody and bail has not yet been set. He has not yet entered a plea, and court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on his behalf.