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Forensics: Bend man gunned down at close range

Published On: Jun 05 2014 07:39:46 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 05 2014 09:19:30 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent has the latest from the courtroom where Luke Wirkkala stands trial for murdering his house guest last year.

BEND, Ore. -

Testimony continued Thursday in the trial against a Bend man who shot and killed his house guest in February 2013.

Luke Wirkkala, 33, is accused of intentionally gunning down 31-year-old David Ryder of Bend after a night of Super Bowl partying.

Much of the focus on Thursday centered on evidence presented by Oregon State Police forensic experts.

Experts confirmed Wirkkala's fingerprints were on the shotgun used to kill Ryder. They also showed how gunpowder soot found on Ryder's body indicated that the shot had been fired within close range -- less than three feet.

"The opinion I formed at the scene was that (Ryder's) arm was bent, and the forearm was up near the face," said OSP forensic scientist Devon Mast.

Wirkkala's defense doesn't dispute that Wirkkala had fired the fatal shot, but said he had shot Ryder in self-defense after Ryder sexually assaulted him and wouldn't leave his house.

Defense attorney Walter Todd said Ryder lunged at Wirkkala after Wirkkala had fired a warning shot in an attempt to scare Ryder off.

"At the moment of the shot, whether the arm was moving forward or backward, all you know is at that moment is the arm is somewhere up here to create a void," Todd said about patches of Ryder's skin that were free from gunpowder soot.

Forensic experts also testified that semen was found on Wirkkala's couch cushions and on the crotch area of Ryder's sweatpants. No testimony has yet been offered on who the bodily fluids belonged to.

A witness who was 16 at the time of shooting was in the house that fateful night, as was Wirkkala's girlfriend and her 11-year-old son. The teen, now 18, is Luke Wirkkala's girlfriend's nephew, and was living with them at the time.

The teen testified Thursday that he never heard the gunshot, and had gone to bed listening to music on headphones. He did say he awoke to glass breaking and a loud thud. He also said he had heard Wirkkala sobbing and saying he had killed Ryder.

The teen also testified he had heard earlier that night, Wirkkala telling Ryder: "I hate that you are moving."

Prosecutors will continue calling on witnesses and experts on Friday. The defense is expected to begin calling its witnesses next week.

NewsChannel 21 will have a full report on day four of the trial on Friday. For live tweets from the courtroom you can follow KandraKTVZ on Twitter.

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