Man doubts he can ever forgive himself for younger brother's death
'It's been an everyday hell' since the shooting, Eric Charlton says
Juab County Attorney Jared Eldridge said he felt he had to hold Eric Charlton accountable for the loss of life. While he believes the shooting was an accident, he also felt it showed recklessness.
Clearly broken, Charlton sobbed through an entire day of courtroom testimony in September. Defense attorney Susanne Gustin said the criminal proceedings have been difficult for her client.
"It was almost on a day-to-day basis trying to get him through the day," she said. "It's very rare that you have a client that is in that amount of trauma and Eric was and it was a daily thing, and an hourly thing at times, just to get him through this."
The judge sentenced Charlton to two years of probation for negligent homicide. And the judge imposed a sentence of 90 days in jail for carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.
Gustin believes no punishment can match what Charlton already imposes on himself.
"It's been an everyday hell," Charlton said. "I wake up every morning and the first thing, if I haven't had nightmares about it, the first thing that pops into my mind is, 'Cameron's gone and you did it. You're the cause of it.'"
Charlton cried throughout the Deseret News interview. He cried when he talked about his charismatic brother who loved and looked up to him. He cried when he talked about how that brother is now gone.
He urged others to avoid mixing drinking and guns. He also urged gun owners to get expert training on their weapons.
Charlton's sentence carries a community service component. He has been ordered to give 90 presentations about the dangers of mixing guns and alcohol. He has already started working with several youth programs in Weber and Davis counties, but he and Gustin worry that his jail commitment will end close to the end of the school year for most students.
Those interested in having Charlton speak have been asked to call Gustin at 801-243-2814.
"Essentially (I) put my story to them and help them make better choices, learn from my mistakes rather than make a stupid mistake and have such drastic consequences as I did," Charlton said.
He is worried about his family — his wife and two young children — while he is in jail. But he has long been asking Cameron to watch over them. Since his brother's death, Charlton has either gone to or driven by the cemetery where Cameron is buried.
"I always tell him, 'Hey, bud. I'm sorry, I love you.' I tell him to watch over our family."
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