Tearful Wirkkala takes stand in Bend murder trial

Tells jury he was trying to stop rape, strangling

BEND, Ore. - Tearful murder defendant Luke Wirkkala took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon, telling jurors he shot and killed David Ryder in self-defense to halt a sexual assault.

"I only stopped what he was trying to do," Wirkkala said in the second week of his jury trial. "He tried to rape and strangle me."

Last week, Wirkkala's defense attorney said in opening statements that Wirkkala shot Ryder in self-defense because Ryder tried to force Wirkkala to perform oral sex on him.

On the stand Wednesday, Wirkkala teared up as he described the sexual assault, saying Ryder was strangling him and had told him, "I know you want to be with a man."

Wirkkala also spoke about his childhood and of his struggles with anxiety and depression, and said he was using alcohol to cope.

Tune in tonight at Five and Six for more on Wednesday's testimony.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case on Day 6 Tuesday, calling the defendant's girlfriend to the witness stand to press her about her hazy recollections of the fateful night.

Wirkkala, 33, is on trial for shooting and killing his house guest, David Ryder, 31, after a night of Super Bowl partying in February 2013.

Wirkkala's girlfriend, Rachel Rasmussen, also was in the home, along with her son and nephew that night.

On the stand Tuesday, Rasmassen appeared unclear in her memory of the night's events leading up to and after the shooting.

She did admit  she had asked her 11-year-old son to not tell police the details he remembered before the shooting.

Prosecutor Mary Anderson didn't mince words when she repeatedly accused Rasmussen of lying throughout the police investigation. 

"Let's cut to the chase, Miss Rasmussen. At that point, you hadn't told the whole truth about a number of things, had you?" Anderson asked.

Rasmussen replied, "At that point, I was still remembering things and telling things."

Rasmussen claimed her stories had changed slightly throughout her police interviews as she began to more clearly recall more details of that night.

Prosecutors also called a toxicology expert with Oregon State Police, who said Wirkkala's blood alcohol level was likely between 0.18 to 0.28 at the time of the shooting. He said Ryder also was found to have had alcohol and marijuana in his system.

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