PETITION FOR COMPASSION IN ERIC CHARLTON CASE
On May 28, 2012, Eric Charlton, 27, and Cameron Charlton, 17, went camping with a group of 20 or more friends at Yuba Lake campground.
The brothers and a friend had been sitting around a campfire drinking when Eric Charlton showed them tactical training techniques with his unloaded gun.
Apparently, Eric had unloaded it before showing it to his brother. He said he took the gun out again later, put the magazine back in, but said he didn't remember much after that. Charges state that Eric made the comment "You're my brother, you know you can trust me," pointed the gun at Cameron's temple and fired.
Immediately, Eric began to give first aid, but Cameron was pronounced dead at the scene.
Very distraught, Eric allegedly told officers, “I did it. I shot my brother. It was an accident.”
A detective said Eric's blood alcohol level was .06 percent.
Eric is now being charged with negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor, as well as misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol. A felony charge for manslaughter has been dropped against him, though prosecutors are asking the judge to reconsider his decision to have this charge brought back up against him.
Prosecutors want him to be held accountable for the shooting while his attorney, Susanne Gustin, says it's not manslaughter, but rather a tragic accident involving two brothers who were best friends. "Cameron (Charlton) would not want him to go through this. He loved his brother and he [would] not want to see his brother go to prison."
Eric made his first court appearance surrounded by a family that his attorney says has been shaken "to the core."
Charlton kept his head down and wept during testimony from Juab County Sheriff's Deputy, Andrew Davidson. When Davidson responded to the shooting at Yuba Lake on May 28, he said Charlton repeatedly told him the shooting was an accident and that he had the gun for protection. The deputy says Eric told him, "I just remember all of a sudden, the firearm went off."
The judge has told him he could go to prison for up to 15 years. His attorney said the shooting was a tragic accident, and Charlton should never have been charged.
Eric's attorney says, the gun could have malfunctioned. She says Eric, who was a mortar man in the Marines, was not an expert with guns. This is an expert gun. He had no training on this gun and when you slam the magazine like that, it shoots a round into the chamber and it can cause a misfire."
Cameron's best friend, John Hummel, was sitting around the campfire with the brothers. In court, he said, when the gun went off, Eric was in sheer terror and pain. He was doing everything he could to save Cameron.
After the hearing, family and friends surrounded Charlton. One by one, they hugged him. Trevor Charlton said his sons, Eric and Cameron, were best friends. He was emotional when he said Eric wasn't a criminal and described how difficult the incident has been for the entire family. “This has been harder on him (Eric) than anyone else,” he said.
“They’ve already lost one son, and they do not want to lose another,” Gustin added. Charlton is an honorable man. A former Marine who spent a year in Iraq, he is married and has a 2-year-old daughter and another on the way. In court, Charlton’s wife, who is due in October, held his arm.
A judge decided Wednesday evening to take the case under advisement.
Prosecutors say they're not surprised the judge decided to wait on the case. They want the judge to consider the case carefully.
This is where we can help, please sign the petition and let Jared Eldridge, Juab County Prosecutor, know that Eric has suffered enough from this tragic situation
Let us be the ones to help Eric and his family move on and mourn the loss of a brother, son, and friend.