Accused Rutland killer's friend claims he never saw a weapon - InfoNews

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Accused Rutland killer's friend claims he never saw a weapon

Steve Pirko is charged with the murder of Chris Ausman, who was found dead on a Rutland street in January, 2014.
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May 23, 2019 - 2:21 PM

KELOWNA - Steven Pirko told Mounties within a day of his 2016 arrest that he struck Christopher Ausman in the head with a hammer in defense of a long-time friend who’d picked a fight he was losing.

Today that friend, Elrich Dyck, told jurors that he didn’t remember Pirko coming to his defence with “a weapon” at all. Dyck was argumentative, defensive and periodically confused as he testified.

At one point he asked Crown counsel David Grabavac if Ausman’s death had occurred in 2013. At another, he asked who Grabavac was, and why he was asking him questions.

He seemed to find clarity when Grabavac asked him about the interaction between Ausman, himself and Pirko Jan. 25, 2014 on Rutland Road and Highway 33.

“(There was) an incident there and a young man lost his life, Christopher Ausman, and another one is in jail and another one is losing his, too,” said Dyck.

“We were laughing and joking, walking up the street to 7-Eleven. Me and Pirko were loud. I am kind of loud, as is. Imagine me drinking.”

Then, he said, he saw Ausman.

“He may have misheard something... me and Pirko were yelling, he might have thought, I don’t know... There was a big confusion, that’s all it was. Wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

Dyck claimed Ausman didn’t pause and ran across the street toward them, wearing a hi-vis vest, a T-shirt and jeans.

“I got attacked right away, I didn’t throw a punch... He was pretty much grabbing me and throwing me against a wall,” said Dyck.

“He rung my bell — come on.”

Dyck said he was being punched in the face repeatedly and was “immobilized” by the attack. He later testified that he didn't incur any injuries, either — no bruising, no broken bones.

When Grabavac asked where Pirko was as this was happening, Dyck said he was around 10 feet behind Ausman. That’s when he asked him to help. 

“Pirko’s look was like, ‘what do I do?’ My bro is getting (beaten up) and he went for his legs as far as I remember,” he said.

Dyck said he didn’t see a weapon in Pirko’s hand and then he asked Grabavac “where is this supposed weapon?”

When more questions were asked, Dyck told jurors that Pirko went for Ausman’s legs at least once, and then he “swung for his head.”

“All I know is he used non-lethal blows, he didn’t want to hurt anybody. It was self-defence, pretty much,” he said.

Later, upon further questioning, he revisited that moment and claimed he didn’t know for sure if Pirko did swing at his head, noting it could have been his shoulder.

“I was looking at (Ausman) and I seen his life leave his eyes and I was not paying attention to what’s happening behind him,” he said.

Once Ausman fell to the ground, Dyck said he and Pirko ran away to the 7-Eleven, neglecting to call the police.

He described himself and Pirko as “kids” who were afraid. He also said that they didn’t touch Ausman as he lay on the ground and that he saw no trace of blood near his body.

This contradicts another point of Pirko’s statement to police that Dyck had punched Ausman several times when went was down.

After going to 7-Eleven, Dyck went back to his dad’s house. Later on, he went back to where the confrontation took place and saw the ambulance and police.

Afterward, he said that he told at least two people I that he played a part in Ausman’s death.

“I went to (my friend) like a little baby and said, ‘I think I killed a man with my bare hands’,” he told jurors.

“I didn’t know what to say or do.”

The same story was reported to his little sister once he went home.

“I had to tell somebody something,” he said.

Pirko is on trial for second degree murder. The fourth week of a trial that was scheduled for eight weeks is nearly complete.

Find past stories on the Steven Pirko trial here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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