Man sentenced to 6 months in jail in accidental shooting of brother, may not serve time

Published: Thursday, Dec. 20 2012 5:40 p.m. MST

"(Cameron) would have stood up for Eric," the boys' father said. "He would have fought for him. In my opinion, he wouldn't have wanted charges filed. … I know that Cameron would have wanted compassion for Eric. I believe that justice demands compassion and mercy and leniency."

As part of the plea agreement, Juab County Attorney Jared Eldridge agreed to defer the sentence to the judge. But he focused his comments on accountability.

"As hard as it is for me, we need to hold Eric Charlton accountable for what he did," Eldridge said. "Eric had control of that gun coming out. He had control of where that gun was pointing. … He had control every step of the way. It was unfortunate. It was unintentional, but it was not an accident. It was utterly reckless."

Eldridge challenged Eric Charlton to live his life as a monument to his younger brother. When Eric Charlton spoke, he thanked the judge and Eldridge, and he talked about what he is trying to do to be the best father, son and husband he can.

He said he is the father of two children and spends more time with them because his younger brother told him to put family first. He said he wears a wrist band that says, "Always Remember. Cam Bam," with "I love you" inscribed on the inside.

"I've got his watch, and it sounds cheesy, but I even carry around a flower I got off of his coffin and carry it everywhere," Eric Charlton said.

Every day, he said, he drives by the cemetery where his brother was buried. That's also how often he cries about what happened. He said he goes to the cemetery and talks to his brother. He said he has fallen asleep on his brother's grave.

"It will always be on my mind," he said, adding that when it comes to forgiving himself, he anticipates that it will be "not fully. Ever."

Defense attorney Susanne Gustin told Brady that her client will punish himself for the rest of his life. She said the case has been "gut-wrenching" and that she will now work with Charlton to come up with a plan for the judge that will satisfy the need for deterrence without jail time.

"It does put pressure on us, but it also gives us an opportunity," she said. "We don't know the sentence yet. We're satisfied to this point. ... Cameron would not want him to go to jail."

Eldridge said he would have liked to have seen Eric Charlton convicted for a felony to keep him from ever possessing firearms, though that restriction is a term of Charlton's probation. He said he believes he could have won an appeal on Brady's ruling to reduce the charge, but also didn't want to delay healing for the Charlton family.

The family did not comment on the sentence, stating they want to wait until after the review hearing, when they learn whether Eric Charlton will avoid prison. Both Trevor Charlton and Linda Osiek said in court, though, that the ongoing court process has made it difficult for them to move forward.

"It's hard to heal with this looming over not just Eric. It's looming over my family," Trevor Charlton said. "It's been hard to think about anything else."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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