SALT LAKE CITY -- A judge has ruled that a 27-year-old West Haven man charged in the shooting death of his teenage brother on a camping trip may stand trial on a misdemeanor count of negligent homicide, not felony manslaughter.
Eric Charlton was charged in June with a second-degree felony count of manslaughter and misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol.
His 17-year-old brother, Cameron Charlton, of Hooper, was shot in the head May 28 while camping with family and friends at Yuba Lake State Park.
Police say the younger boy was accidentally shot as Charlton was showing him a gun.
In his ruling issued Friday, 4th District Judge James Brady ruled the prosecution had not met the burden to prove that Charlton acted recklessly.
Brady noted that the Utah Supreme Court recognized the "difference between reckless and criminally negligent conduct is that, under the former, one perceives a risk and consciously disregards it, whereas under the latter, one fails even to perceive the risk."
Brady wrote that Charlton removed the gun's magazine and cleared a cartridge from the chamber. He later re-inserted the magazine.
"There was no evidence ... that defendant knew there was a round in the chamber that could be fired if the trigger were pulled. ... There is no other evidence, or inference from other evidence, indicating the defendant knew a cartridge was in the firing chamber when the victim was shot."
Brady ordered Charlton bound over on the two other counts.