Man given 4-year sentence on murder charge

Charles Roundtree

Facing a murder charge in his brother's death, a North Charleston man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter in what even the judge described as a "freakish" situation.

Circuit Court Judge Roger Young sentenced Charles Roundtree, 54, to four years in prison, a term that will include the past 19 months Roundtree has spent in jail. He hit his brother, Jimmy Roundtree, 62, in the neck with an aluminum cane after an argument at their mobile home in October 2009.

Charles Roundtree, who takes daily medication to control his schizophrenia, told Young, "It went too far. ... He ended up dying from the actions, from the incident that happened."

His attorney, Beattie Butler, noted that the case would have been a simple assault if that single blow hadn't killed Jimmy Roundtree. The older Roundtree fell to the floor and, by the time a witness called 911, had stopped breathing.

Before issuing his sentence, Young said that Charles Roundtree meant to swing the cane at his brother and added, "You're stuck with the result."

The brothers' sister, Ann Duncan, told the judge that her two brothers were always together. She said her dead brother would tell the court his brother didn't mean to kill him.

"I'm not trying to talk for Charles, against Jimmy," Duncan said. "I'm talking for Jimmy for Charles."