Deliberations scheduled to begin in bonfire death trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon in the case against a man accused of beating another man to death.

Christopher Hoffman, 26, is charged with second degree murder in the death of Ryan Ford, 19, who died during a fight at a bonfire in January 2013. The party was on private property off of Old St. Augustine Road.

Throughout the week, prosecutors and the defense called several people to the stand, including witnesses who were at the party.

Prosecutors said Hoffman, the defendant and Robert Cline got into a fight with the victim the night he died.

Prosecutors said Hoffman hit and kicked Ford several times before he was knocked unconscious. Ford was taken to an area hospital where he later died.

Cline was charged with misdemeanor battery for his role in the attack on Ford. Prosecutors said Cline's misdemeanor charge is a result of him throwing a single punch, unlike Hoffman, who threw several punches.

The defense argued that it was dark outside during the fight and it's impossible to prove who caused the victim's death.

Witnesses testified there were several fights going on at the same time during the alcohol-fueled party.

Prosecutors made closing arguments around 11 a.m. The defense is expected to make closing argument after lunch.

The judge said the jury is likely to start deliberations by 3 p.m.


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