Family and friends of a 27-year-old man who accidentally shot his brother during a Memorial Day weekend camping trip packed a 4th District Courtroom in Nephi for his initial appearance, according to courthouse staff.
Eric Wayne Charlton, who is out on bail, appeared before Judge James Brady on Tuesday. Charlton is charged with one count of manslaughter, a second-degree felony; reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor; and carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol/drugs, a class B misdemeanor.
Charlton, of West Haven, was charged with manslaughter, despite police having called the shooting accidental.
Charlton pleaded not guilty at Tuesday's hearing.
Eric Charlton, his 17-year-old brother, Cameron Bryce Charlton, and another teen were drinking alcohol together prior to the fatal May 28 shooting at Yuba State Park in Juab County, police have reported.
Eric Charlton who had served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps told police he had been showing his brother and the 16-year-old different firearm techniques with a .45-caliber hand gun when it discharged.
Charlton said he initially removed the magazine from the gun, and even pulled the slide back to show the teens that the weapon was empty, before demonstrating the techniques, according to the jail booking documents.
Charlton told police he then replaced the magazine, but did not remember charging the gun's chamber with a live round. Charlton said he put the gun on the ground and was talking to his brother about trust. He then picked up the gun, swung it toward his brother and it went off, hitting the teen in the left temple, according to the documents.
"This was an accident. He shouldn't be charged at all," said Susanne Gustin, Charlton's attorney. "The family is devastated. They lost one son and do not want to lose the other."
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.