▶️ As Bend murder retrial nears, friends and family of accused killer hope for redemption

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Armed with signs and fliers, friends and family of Luke Wirkkala hope to spread the word about what they consider a wrongful conviction.

“The prosecution did something that wasn’t right,” Childhood friend Brian Wisdom said.

In 2018, the conviction was overturned. The appeals court found officers continued to question Wirkkala despite his request for a lawyer, and then pursued evidence uncovered during that interview.

According to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, the Oregon Department of Justice is now prosecuting the case

No one from that agency was available for comment.

“We feel that Luke defended himself, his girlfriend, and two young boys,” Wirkalla’s sister Evelyn Luethe said.

Wirkkala admits he shot his friend David Ryder in the neck with a 12-gauge shotgun after a Super Bowl party in 2013.

His sister Evelyn says he shot Ryder after Wirkkala awoke to find he was being sexually assaulted and strangled.

They said it was consensual,” said Luethe. “But there was no evidence that it was consensual and the strangulation, that was not consensual.”

A hearing is scheduled for next week. His new trial is scheduled for later this year.

“Luke is very remorseful and so is our family, you know, someone lost a loved one,” Luethe said.

However, Luethe hopes Luke’s trial will have the outcome they’ve been waiting for.

“The outcome would be ‘Not Guilty’, or an acquittal,” she said.

Wirkkala’s trial is set for this October.

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