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Family holds silent protest in Bend before Luke Wirkkala murder retrial

Family members there is a stigma for men sexually assaulted

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A silent protest took place Friday at the Peace Corner in Bend, off of Greenwood Avenue and Wall Street, for 39-year-old Luke Wirkkala, who faces a retrial after he was sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 killing of 31-year-old house guest David Ryder.

A small group of family and friends wore red "Justice for Luke" T-shirts and held signs in support Wirkkala, who was sentenced to life in prison, with at least 25 years before he could seek parole.

In 2018, the state Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial, saying police should have stopped questioning him after he asked for a lawyer.

Wirkkala said he acted in self-defense by shooting Ryder, who he said sexually assaulted and attacked him during a night of Super Bowl partying. Wirkkala's retrial is set for this October.

His brother-in-law, Steve McConnell, said Friday's silent protest was to re-familiarize the case to the community.

"This is just an awareness of how unfair it is in Luke's case," McConnell said. "Hopefully it'll bring some awareness to the citizens here because here we are -- we're going to be trying this case with the same citizen arena."

McConnell also told NewsChannel 21 he feels there is a stigma when it comes to believing men who say they are sexually assaulted.

"There are predators out there for both children, male, female, adults, for the elderly," McConnell said. "We don't seem to really emphasize that enough, in my own personal belief, especially when it comes to criminal cases."

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel recently turned the case over to the state Department of Justice, citing a conflict of interest, after a first cousin of Wirkkala sent disturbing letters to his office.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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