An active duty soldier with 17 years of service is facing murder charges following the death of his girlfriend's 5-year-old son, due to the allegation that he forced the child out of his car on an Alabama highway in dark and rainy conditions.
Bryan Starr, 35, was at the wheel on Highway 165 Sunday evening, November 29, when his young passenger Austin Birdseye allegedly began acting up and “being unruly” inside the car. Starr pulled over at a church parking lot and ordered the child to get out of the car as a consequence for his behavior. Birdseye's mom, Christina, who lives with Starr just a few miles away from the church, was not with them in the car at the time.
Starr then reportedly stated that he lost sight of the boy once he left the car, due to the dark rainy weather. According to police, Birdseye wandered onto the freeway and was struck by another vehicle. He was taken to the hospital, where he died of his injuries that night.
Russell County sheriff Heath Taylor said investigators have a warrant charging Starr — who turned himself in to the sheriff's office — with murder because of his reckless disregard for the child's safety.
The driver of the Toyota that struck Birdseye is considered not at fault, and is not expected to face charges. Authorities report road visibility was limited due to the weather and lighting, and the driver is devastated over hitting the child, despite the fact it was beyond control. "At this point, there’s no indication that they had any chance of not hitting the little guy,” Taylor explained.
Starr is a sergeant first class from Illinois, who has been in the military for 17 years. He is assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade, according to Fort Benning spokesperson Ben Garrett.
A GoFundMe has been established to help the boy's mother with funeral costs. The page describes him as being a fun-loving and social child who liked to sing songs "at the top of his lungs while in the car."