NEPHI -- A grieving former Marine who accidentally shot and killed his younger brother was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail followed by a public-speaking tour.
Eric Charlton, of West Haven, was ordered to talk about the dangers of mixing alcohol and firearms twice a week for 45 weeks, said a court clerk for the 4th District judge in Nephi.
Judge James Brady spared the 27-year-old veteran of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan a longer jail term after Charlton's family, friends and counselors pleaded for mercy.
His wife of six years, Julianne, said jail would keep him from a 3-year-old daughter, a son born in October and "cause Eric to become locked inside his head."
Charlton was described as inconsolable by more than a dozen people who wrote letters describing a special bond between the brothers. They asked the judge to reject prosecutors' requests for a stiffer sentence.
"Eric has been severely broken in his heart and soul," said retired Air Force officer William Glendening, a friend of the Ogden-area family. "He cries over and over that he should not be alive and is a worthless and stupid human being.
"He punishes himself relentlessly," Glendening added. "Every time he closes his eyes he sees horrifying images of his bleeding brother lying on the ground dying. I can't imagine the pain."
Charlton shot his brother at a Yuba Lake campground last May. However, he disputes prosecutors' account that he pointed the gun at Cameron Charlton's head. His defense lawyer maintains he waved the gun over a campfire and it accidentally fired.
"He did not point the gun," lawyer Susanne Gustin told the AP. "That didn't happen. Our expert says he was taking it out of a holster. He hit his brother's shoulder and the gun fired."
Charlton was fined $3,800 and ordered to stay away from alcohol and firearms for two years.