December 2, 2020


An active-duty soldier is facing criminal charges after his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son was struck and killed on a busy highway in Alabama after he allegedly forced the child to get out of the car in the rain and after dark as punishment.

Bryan Starr, 35, told investigators he was driving near Fort Mitchell, Ala., when 5-year-old Austin Birdseye started to become “unruly” inside the vehicle. Starr said he then pulled over in a church parking lot and told the boy to get out, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor explained in a virtual press conference.


Starr allegedly told investigators he lost view of the child in the rain. It was unclear how much time passed before Birdseye wandered onto the busy Highway 165 near County Road 24, where he was struck around 8 p.m. The boy was rushed to Piedmont Columbus Regional, where he was pronounced dead at 8:51 p.m., Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. confirmed to WTVM.

“It’s just horrific. I can’t imagine the mother’s grief that she is going through. It’s just tough. What do you say to that?” Taylor said at the press conference. “What is your thought process when you tell a 5-year-old to get out of the car on a rainy night because they were loud in the car? It’s just heartbreaking.”

Bryan Starr was charged with reckless murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend's 5-year-old son. (Russell County Sheriff's Office)

Bryan Starr was charged with reckless murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son. (Russell County Sheriff’s Office)


Investigators are retrieving surveillance video from the church parking lot. The deadly crash happened just a few miles from the home Starr shares with his girlfriend in Fort Mitchell, WRBL reported. Taylor said the woman was not with Starr when he told her son to get out in the rain. He added that the driver who struck the boy is not at fault and is devastated. 

Starr, a soldier stationed at Fort Benning, was questioned by investigators at the hospital and later turned himself in to the Russell County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with reckless murder and was booked into the Russell County Detention Facility. He is eligible for bond.

Originally from Marengo, Ill.,  Starr is a sergeant first class assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade stationed at Fort Benning. The military base is in Georgia, about 3 miles across the state border from where Starr lives in Alabama. Starr has 17 years of service, which include one combat tour to Iraq.


“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased,” Ben Garrett, spokesman for Fort Benning, said in a statement. 

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Bay Village, Ohio

Domestic dispute, Normandy Road

On Nov. 9 officers responded to a residence and learned that the 20-year-old son had begun moving out of the house but was creating a disturbance. Officers discovered that the son left in his father’s car without permission. Officers notified the son that he could be charged if he didn’t return the car. The car was found abandoned in North Ridgeville and the father had already arrived to get his car back.

Bay Village police cruiser

Bay Village Police

Fraud, Walker Road

On Nov. 11 a resident reported that she was the victim of fraud. Officers spoke with the woman who said that she was online when a pop-up stated her computer had been infected with a virus. The pop-up then gave her instructions for contacting “Microsoft Support.” The scam artists continued to contact the homeowner who eventually went out and purchased $3,000 in gift cards. She then gave the gift card information to the scammers. The homeowner is out the money and the Bay Village Detective Bureau is investigating.

Burglary, Kenilworth Road

On Nov. 11 a woman reported she and her friend had been out of the home between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. When they arrived home, they found that someone had entered the home and took numerous items. The items included numerous electronics including a Playstation 4 and a Virtual Reality headset.

Drunken driving, Lake Road

On Nov. 15 an officer stopped a car for a moving traffic violation. Officers spoke with the driver, a 43-year-old Elyria resident, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The driver failed field sobriety tests and was arrested. At the police station, the driver refused to submit to an Intoxilyzer test to measure her blood alcohol content.

Read more news from the West Shore Sun.

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THE mother of a teen stabbed to death has asked why her son was taken from her in a row over “something cheap” like a bicycle.

Azzam Raguragui, 18, died after suffering five stab wounds during a melee in Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10, 2019.

Hajiba and Abdul


Hajiba and Abdul
Azzam Raguragui


Azzam Raguragui

His parents Hajiba and Abdul told a sentence hearing for their son’s killer that they wanted to do something good for their communities when they moved to Ireland and are proud of what their children have achieved.

But in an emotional statement Hajiba asked why her “kind” son was taken from her in an argument over a bicycle, “something cheap”.

She said she wants justice for her son.

She also said that Azzam was a “faithful and loyal” son who smiled so much he was nicknamed “Smiley”.


Father Abdul said that his son’s killer was caught on CCTV celebrating and “high-fiving” with friends after the fatal attack.

He added: “In addition to losing my son in a heinous crime I also lost myself, my wife and two kids as we have never been the same.”

Mr Justice Paul McDermott will pass sentence later today.

The 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury in September.

He had previously offered to plead guilty but the Director of Public Prosecutions rejected the plea.

The trial heard that one of Azzam’s wounds severed an artery and caused massive blood loss which led to his death.

The jury passed their verdict having heard that if the accused believed he was acting in self-defence but used more force than was reasonably necessary then he should be found guilty of the lesser charge.

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