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Bend murder defendant tearfully recounts events


There was no lack of emotion on the witness stand Wednesday afternoon as a Bend man accused of murder choked back tears and told why he felt hewas forced to shoot and kill someone he considered a friend.

“He (victim David Ryder) grabbed me by the back of the neck and forced my head down into his lap,” said 33-year-old Luke Wirkkala, his head down, on the verge of tears. “He said to me, ‘I know you want to be with a man.'”

Wirkkala’s murder trial focuses on a fateful night in February 2013, when he shot and killed Ryder, a 31-year-old Bend man and house guest.

“He was someone I considered a friend, who I invited into my house and who tried to rape and strangle me,” Wirkkala testified.

It all began with a drunken Super Bowl party at a local bar and ended with an after-party at Wirkkala’s southeast Bend home.

Wirkkala’s girlfriend, her child and nephew were asleep in the house when Wirkkala fired the fatal round from his shotgun into the side of Ryder’s neck.

Wirkkala said he had no choice.

“He’s right in my face, I swung the gun down, his arm came flying up at me and I pulled the trigger,” Wirkkala said. “He had this twisted, sadistic grin on his face.”

Evidence presented earlier in the trial showed Wirkkala’s DNA was found on Ryder’s penis. Semen was also recovered from the crotch of Ryder’s sweatpants and on the couch where the two men had been drinking and socializing for hours that night.

Wirkkala claims he eventually nodded off, only to be awakened some time later to Ryder pulling off his pants.

“I said ‘No, not going to happen,'” Wirkkala said. “Then he grabbed me by the throat and started yelling.”

Wirkkala said after a tussle, he finally got away, running to grab a gun and try to scare Ryder out of the house.

“I said, ‘I’ll (expletive) kill you,” Wirkkala testified. But he also said he never intended to kill Ryder, and only fired in panic when Ryder began coming at him.

Prosecutors are trying to prove this is no case of self-defense.

During cross-examination, Deschutes CountyChief Deputy District Attorney Mary Anderson took aim at both Wirkkala’s story and his intentions that night.

“Did David Ryder initiate something and then kind of push it aside and reject you?” Anderson asked. “Would it be difficult for you to admit to some type of consensual sexual contact?”

Wirkkala replied the sexual contact was not consensual, and Anderson kept pushing.

“Can you look at me and tell me there was no consensual contact between you and David Ryder?” Anderson asked.

“There was no consensual contact between me and David Ryder,” Wirkkala said.

Anderson then said the first time she asked Wirkkala the question, he wouldn’t look at her.

Defense attorneys will continue calling character witnesses this week, and indicated they will try to prove Ryder is what they call an “aggressive bisexual.”

Wirkkala’s case is expected to go the jury by the end of the week. Follow Kandra Kent’s live tweets of the trial @KandraKTVZ and her reports on NewsChannel 21.

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