A jury bypassed a manslaughter charge Thursday, opting instead to convict a 26-year-old Jacksonville man of felony battery in the beating death of a 19-year-old at a Mandarin bonfire in January 2013, according to court records.


Police said Christopher Scott Hoffman repeatedly punched Ryan Scott Ford of St. Augustine while he was on the ground. Other partygoers at the wooded area off Old St. Augustine Road rushed Ford to the hospital, but he died from his injuries.

Police said another man at the party, 24-year-old Robert Lloyd Cline II, had initially punched Ford in the face and knocked him to the ground after a series of fights broke out. That’s when Hoffman got involved.

Cline is charged with battery. His next court date is Sept. 8.

Hoffman will be sentenced Sept. 24, court records show.

Derek Gilliam: (904) 359-4619