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Bend jury finds Wirkkala guilty of murder

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Aug 06 2014 06:47:15 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 16 2014 04:15:50 PM CDT

Jury will resume deliberations next Monday; NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent reports on Friday's closing arguments to the jury by prosecutors, defense

BEND, Ore. -

After about seven hours of deliberations over two days, a Deschutes County jury convicted a 33-year-old Bend man of murder Monday in the fatal shooting of his house guest, rejecting his claim of self-defense after a sexual assault.

The jury returned its unanimous verdict at about 11:15 a.m. Monday in the case of Luke Wirkkala, which they had received afternoon following closing arguments.

The judge set July 14th at 2 p.m. for sentencing of Wirkkala. Neither side in the case nor the victim's or defendant's family would comment after Monday's verdict.

In a news release, the district attorney's office said, "The jury was attentive and spent nine days listening to the testimony at trial and receiving exhibits. The jury applied the facts to the law and the defendant was convicted.

DA Patrick Flaherty said he "would like to thank the Bend Police Department, the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, the Medical Examiner’s Office, our County Medical Examiner and the staff of the District Attorney’s Office. In particular, thank you to DDA Kandy Gies, CDDA Mary Anderson, Detective Robert Jones, Victim Advocate Debbi Wise and Trial Assistant Carri. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of David Ryder."

"He (victim David Ryder) was a person, a person who touched many people throughout his life," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Mary Anderson.

It was over a year ago when Wirkkala gunned down his 31-year-old house guest after a night of Super Bowl partying.

Ryder was found dead in Wirkkala's home with a gunshot wound in the neck.

"What would happen if David Ryder would have actually been able to get the gun away?" defense attorney Walter Todd asked jurors. "You have to think about in that split second, whether you're going to be a victim or you're going to be a defendant."

But time and time again, prosecutors tore apart Wirkkala's story of sexual assault and abuse.

"It doesn't make sense," Anderson said repeatedly of Wirkkala's testimony about the struggle that ensued in his living room.

She questioned why there wasn't more evidence proving the struggle took place,  and also why there was no evidence Wirkkala tried to fight off the attack.

"What person, giving these series of events presented by the defendant, isn't going to be using their hands to protect themselves?" Anderson asked.

Instead, Anderson and Deputy DA Kandy Gies said the the physical evidence from the living room suggested the sexual contact was consensual.

But defense attorneys said there wasn't any proof the two men had an intimate relationship, and backed Wirkkala's claim of self-defense.

"Still no theory of why," Todd argued of the prosecution's case. "Why Luke Wirkkala would have killed -- taken the life of David Ryder."

Lots of questions in the courtroom, and now jurors will decide the answers.

"Are you going to allow your mouth to have contact (with someone's penis) without your hands (trying to stop it), or by biting or something?" Anderson asked.

Todd asked jurors not to discriminate against Wirkkala based on gender.

"If Luke Wirkkala had been a woman, in this same situation, would this case have ever been charged? Would we be here today?" the defense lawyer asked.

NewsChannel 21 will have a full report Monday evening. For breaking reports, follow @KandraKTVZ on Twitter.

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