Luke Wirkkala was strangled and sexually assaulted in Bend, Oregon in 2014 in his own home while his girlfriend and two young boys slept. The man Luke and his girlfriend Rachel had recently befriended became everyone's worst nightmare.
It takes as little as 10 to 15 seconds of strangulation to cause death. Fighting for his life, Luke retrieved his shotgun, ejected a round and told his attacker, David Ryder, to leave. The prosecution stated that Ryder was trying to leave the house but crime scene photos and trial transcripts show Ryder was advancing towards Luke in the kitchen, not the front door.
When Ryder was inches from him, Luke pulled the trigger. The fatal shot was in an upward trajectory, as Luke had swung the weapon up to try and avoid David Ryder's second attack, as shown by forensic evidence.
There is clear DNA evidence to support the sexual assault and strangulation, including Luke's skin found under Ryder's fingernails and strangulation and claw marks on Luke's neck, as well as explicit evidence of the sexual assault.
Witness testimony against David Andrew Ryder was inexplicably barred by the judge during the first trial in 2014. Ryder gave a girlfriend two black eyes and a broken nose, kicked a man down a flight of stairs, and was processed out of the Navy for his non-consensual sexual advances and violence towards men.
Friends, family, and victim advocates would like to raise awareness of the wrongful conviction and let the jury hear the witness testimony and the violent history of David Andrew Ryder that was suppressed by the Deschutes County DA in Bend, Oregon. The first trial was overturned due to misconduct, and the re-trial is set for March 17th, 2021.
We need to Free Luke Wirkkala and bring him home.