Soldier pleads guilty of 5-year-old’s death; he abandoned boy who then ran into highway and was killed

Published 7:34 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

An Alabama soldier pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old child after he pushed the boy out of his car at a church and the boy then ran into traffic and was killed, a TV station reported.

Bryan Starr, 37, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in court Monday to avoid the case going to trial, WRBL-TV reported.

Austin Birdsey, 5, the son of Starr’s then girlfriend was killed in 2020 after Starr forced him out of a car and into a church parking lot in Russell County as the boy threw a temper tantrum.

Birdsey reportedly told his mother, Christina Birdsey, and Starr that he wanted to run away and find a new family.

So Starr took the boy for a ride, pulled into a church and told the boy to get out and find a new family at the church, which was locked because it was after hours.

Surveillance video showed the boy attempted to get in the locked church door as Starr drove away leaving him alone in the parking lot.

Then footage shows the boy ran toward the Alabama 165. One driver swerved and missed the boy, but another driver could not stop in time and struck the boy.

Both drivers stopped and tried to help, but the boy died at the scene.

In exchange for his plea, Starr agreed to serve up to five years in prison instead of the possibility of up to 20 years. A judge will decide exactly how much of that sentence is served in prison and how much on probation.

WRBL reported that the victim’s father testified in court. He lives in another state and is not married to Birdsey anymore.

“I saw a terrified little boy looking for somebody to take care of him,” the man told the court. ” … He was just looking for someone to take care of him.”