PORTLAND — Jurors today convicted Ernest Weidul of manslaughter in the death of Roger Downs Jr.

The jury also returned guilty verdicts against Weidul on charges of aggravated assault and operating a vehicle after suspension. Deliberations lasted about four hours over Tuesday afternoon and this morning.

Some of Downs’ relatives broke into tears as the verdicts were announced.

His sister, Vicki Legere, said later that they were tears of relief.

“No family should have to go through this. It’s so difficult,” she said.

Weidul appeared calm when the jury returned its verdicts. He has no living family members, according to his lawyer.

The two men met on May 5, 2010, after Weidul scraped his pickup truck on a guardrail by Downs’ building on Forest Avenue. They drank large amounts of coffee brandy and got into a fight. After Downs woke up with injuries including broken facial bones, a lacerated lip and bruised eyes, he called for an ambulance.

Downs, 46, died after going into severe respiratory distress two days after his encounter with the defendant. His airways were blocked and the doctor was unable to insert a breathing tube.

During the trial in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court, the defense argued that Weidul was acting in self-defense and that Downs continued to swing at him. The prosecution noted that Weidul had told others he had punched Downs 30 or more times and that Downs had managed to land only one blow.

The two sides also presented different theories on how Downs contracted pneumonia, which was not treated or diagnosed before his death. The prosecution said if he had aspiration pneumonia – caused by the inhalation of foreign matter – it would have been linked to the blunt-force trauma inflicted to Downs’ neck during the beating. The defense argued that Downs likely caught it by sharing a glass with Weidul, who had bronchitis that could have developed into pneumonia.

Weidul is expected to be sentenced in about three weeks, but a date has not yet been set. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.