Luke Wirkkala murder retrial starts with witness and opening arguments

The retrial for a Bend man accused of killing his friend after a Super Bowl party eight years ago started Thursday with opening arguments.

Luke Wirkkala’s attorneys have long claimed he shot and killed David Ryder in self-defense back in 2013.

A temporary courtroom at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds was quiet and distanced as the first witness was also called to testify on Thursday.

His first conviction was overturned on appeal because police continued to interrogate him after he asked for a lawyer.

He is accused of killing Ryder after a Superbowl party acting in self-defense as he claims Ryder tried to sexually assault him.

The 9-1-1 call made that night was also played in the courtroom on Thursday:

Dispatch: “Tell me exactly what happened.”

Caller: “I don’t know, I was asleep, then I came out, and somebody’s been shot.”

Rachel Rasmussen was Wirkkala’s then-girlfriend, and made that phone call.

She was also the witness on Thursday.

“She sees David Ryder dead on the floor,” the prosecution team said in its opening arguments. “She sees the defendant crouched… she’s not entirely clear if he’s holding the gun or the gun was in front of him.”

Wirkkala’s defense team also made statements to the jury.

“David Ryder was trying to kill Luke Wirkkala,” the defense said. “Mr. Wirkkala broke free from that, returned to the threat with a shotgun, provided numerous warnings for this madman, sexual predator to leave his home. He did not.”

The trial continues on Friday and is expected to call on more witnesses.


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