Graphic details heard as Bend murder trial begins
Updated On: Jun 05 2014 10:58:25 AM CDT
The murder trial of a Bend man accused of fatally shooting a house guest began Wednesday with graphic opening statements about what took place that fateful night at Luke Wirkkala's southeast Bend home.
Wirkkala's defense lawyers told the eight-man, six-woman jury panel (12 jurors and two alternates) that Wirkkala had been forcibly sodomized (a reference in this case to oral sex) by David Ryder the night Ryder was fatally shot.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, said Wirkkala's DNA was found on Ryder's genitals. The two men had only hung out together three times before the deadly shooting, lawyers said.
"The defendant intentionally caused the death of David Andrew Ryder, another human being," Chief Deputy District Attorney Mary Anderson in her opening arguments before Circuit Judge Stephen Forte.
Wirkkala, now 33, was charged with murder in the death of 31-year-old Ryder early on Feb. 4, 2013. He was arrested at his home on SE Will Scarlet Lane after police arrived to find Ryder dead of a gunshot wound; Wirkkala allegedly fired one round from a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun.
"Mr. Wirkkala brought the shotgun around, no time to aim, and pulls the trigger, and it was a shot in self-defense," defense attorney Walter Todd said.
Todd said both men had been drinking earlier that day at a Super Bowl party at a local tavern, and had ended up at Wirkkala's home to continue to drink and talk.
He said Wirkkala was quite intoxicated and passed out on the couch -- only to wake up and find Ryder ripping off his pants and assaulting him.
"Mr. Ryder is aggressively bisexual," Todd said. "(Mr. Wirkkala) was forcibly sodomized by David Ryder. He was screaming, saying, 'No, no, not going to happen.' Completely taken aback by the confrontational, overpowering Mr. Ryder. He was afraid of him."
Todd said Wirkkala was briefly forced into performing oral sex on Ryder before he was able to get away, run to his bedroom and grab a shotgun. The attorney said Wirkkala then returned, pumped the shotgun once and ordered Ryder to leave.
The lawyer said Wirkkala fired off a warning shot, but Ryder approached him and lunged.
There were no disputes in courtroom over who fired that fatal shot into Ryder's neck, or that sexual contact occurred earlier between the two men.
"There was some kind of contact with the defendant's DNA, and the victim, and the victim's penis," Anderson said.
Anderson also argued the evidence shows neither Wirkkala nor his girlfriend tried helping the victim after the shooting.
"Towels had been placed around the victim, and it wasn't to offer any aid, but to keep the blood from moving onto the carpet," Anderson said.
Anderson focused much of her comments on Ryder's character, noting that he had a young child and had just accepted a new job in Atlanta. She also said Wirkkala, speaking with police immediately after the shooting, referred to it as a murder.
'No one other than the defendant used the word 'murder.' The defendant knew what he did," Anderson said.
Wirkkala is expected to take the stand to argue he shot Ryder in self-defense.
On Tuesday, defense lawyers had asked that Wirkkala's leg restraints be removed during the trial. But police said that would require more security in court, so the judge denied the request.
Police had said Wirkkala shot and killed Ryder following a night of drinking in which the two men engaged in sexual activity.
Wirkkala showed up in Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Forte's courtroom Monday afternoon in his jail clothing, hands and feet shackled. By Tuesday, he was in a suit instead.
On Monday, Wirkkala's defense team and prosecutors hashed out last-minute motions -- arguing over defense expert testimony, the use of certain character traits describing Ryder and whether photos of Ryder's face and wounds should be shown to jurors.
They also discussed how Ryder should be referred to in court. The defense argued he should not be called a "victim."
"Mr. Wirkkala is presumed innocent," a defense lawyer said.. "For the prosecutor to use that word, victim, in front of the jury, is stating the defendant is guilty."
Anderson argued being a victim isn't a description one chooses.
"That term is a specific legal term," Anderson said. "It applies in this case. It also attaches with it certain rights for a victim, and a victim's family."
Forte ruled prosecutors can indeed refer to Ryder as a victim.
Friends and family of both men were in court for the hearing, and so were neighbors of Wirkkala. Some told NewsChannel 21 they were curious to know what really happened that fateful night more than a year ago.
NewsChannel 21 will be there each day of the trial, which is expected to last about two weeks.
For the very latest information, follow Kandra Kent on Twitter @KandraKTVZ. You can also search the hashtag "#WirkkalaTrial."
Tune into NewsChannel 21 at Five and Six Wednesday for a full report of the trial's opening day.
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