Bonfire brawl verdict: Hoffman guilty of felony battery

by: Leslie Coursey Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A  jury Thursday evening convicted Christopher Hoffman of felony battery in the death of a man at a bonfire party brawl.

The verdict came down just before 6:30 p.m., after several hours of deliberations.

"It was more appropriate than what was brought before court," said Hoffman's attorney James Hill. 

Closing arguments for both sides wrapped up around 3 p.m. Thursday.

Prosecutors say Hoffman, 25,  killed Ryan Ford, 19, in a fist fight at a bonfire party in Mandarin January 2013.

Defense attorneys said told the jury during closing arguments there's no person on the planet that can definitively say Hoffman killed Ryan Ford, no way to prove he threw the fatal punch.

It called witnesses who claimed more than a dozen people were fighting at the bonfire. 

Ford's sister, Kristi Ford, testified Tuesday that she saw Hoffman pummeling her brother as he lay unconscious on the ground.

"No I don't think it was a fair verdict," she said after the verdict. 

Another man, Robert Cline, admits to punching Ford first. Battery charges are pending against him.

Hoffman faced second-degree murder charges. 

"I wish it had come out better but it could've been worse," said Hoffman's great uncle Robert Hays. 

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