Bend man gets life for slaying of house guest

Families of Luke Wirkkala, David Ryder address courtroom

Bend man gets life for slaying of houseguest

BEND, Ore. - A phone call into a Deschutes County courtroom from thousands of miles away did not mask the anger of David Ryder Sr. as he listened to Luke Wirkkala be sentenced for the murder of Ryder's son Wednesday afternoon.

"Mr. Wirkkala is a vile human being, with no regard for human life," Ryder said on the phone during his turn to address the courtroom. "If he dies in prison, I'll lose no sleep over it. I hope the Parole Board denies his parole time after time and he gets carried out in a body bag, like my son was."

Ryder also took the opportunity to talk about how the tragedy is affecting his family, most of whom live in Kentucky and could not attend the sentencing.

"It still breaks my heart when I hear his son, Landon, ask DeAnna, 'When is Daddy coming home?' How do you explain death and never to a 3-year-old?" Ryder asked.

Wirkkala, now 33, was sentenced to life in prison more than a year after he shot and killed his house guest after a night of Super Bowl partying.

In June, a jury rejected Wirkkala's claim he was forced to kill Ryder in self-defense after Ryder attacked and sexually assaulted him.

Evidence at trial showed the two men had engaged in sexual activity that fatal night.

Wirkkala will spend at least 25 years behind bars before he will be eligible to seek parole, but he left court still maintaining his innocence.

"I felt remorse from the second this happened, every moment since then," Wirkkala said. "That being said, I believe every human being has a right to self-defense, and I was attacked in my home."

A few of Wirkkala's family members also addressed the court, still shocked he won't be coming home.

"When did we lose the right to defend ourselves in our own home?" asked Wirkkala's girlfriend at the time of the slaying, who says she is now Rachel Wirkkala. "I fear for what would have happened to my family that night, had he not acted as quickly as he had."

Wirkkala's family now vows to fight for an appeal. If he is ever paroled he will be supervised for the rest of his life.

Circuit Judge Stephen Forte also spoke to Wirkkala and the courtroom, saying he believed Wirkkala had the time to make a choice and made the wrong decision. He said one lesson to be learned from the tragedy is that guns and alcohol never mix.

A future court date has been set to discuss whether Wirkkala will owe the Ryder family restitution.

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