'Anything can happen in Rutland' says Kelowna man on trial for 2014 murder - InfoNews

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'Anything can happen in Rutland' says Kelowna man on trial for 2014 murder

Steve Pirko is charged with the murder of Chris Ausman, who was found dead on a Rutland street in January, 2014.
Image Credit: Facebook
June 05, 2019 - 1:00 PM

KELOWNA - Anything can happen in Rutland.

That’s the reason Steven Pirko offered Crown counsel David Grabavac Wednesday, when asked why he was armed with a hammer Jan. 25, 2014 — the morning he fatally bludgeoned Christopher Ausman.

Pirko has already told jurors in his second-degree murder trial that he hit Ausman in the head with the hammer at least two times.

His claim, however, is that he didn’t do it with an intent to fatally wound the 32-year-old. He said he didn't want a fight, but when Elrich Dyck, a man he considered to be his brother, was drawn into a conflict he had no other choice. Dyck, he said, was seriously outmatched in a fistfight with Ausman that ultimately lasted around one minute and 15 seconds, and he was called upon to help.

The idea that he had no ill intent and had no other choice but to strike Ausman, or that he didn't know hitting Ausman in the head with a hammer would be fatal, is what Grabavac picked away at in his cross-examination .

Grabavac first asked why Pirko needed a weapon at all.

“I don’t know — for protection?” Pirko said. He previously testified he feared running into a person he was in conflict with.

“Ed was with you, right? Why do you need protection when you’re with your friend?” Grabavac asked.

“I have lots of friends, don’t know if that means they will fight for me,” Pirko said.

Grabavac then asked Pirko if he was expecting to get into a fight.

“I don’t know,” Pirko said. “Anything can happen in Rutland."

In a later line of questioning, Grabavac revisited Pirko's mood that night.

He asked whether he was angry the night of the fatal altercation, and Pirko said he rarely gets angry. 

“You might get angry if your big brother is getting beat up on the road?” Grabavac asked.

“No, I wasn’t angry, I was scared,” said Pirko.

Dyck, however, was another story. He already testified in the trial and at that time proved to be erratic and uneven in his responses to questions.

Pirko, in testimony that followed, said Dyck was different in 2014, but he still had some personality issues. He was, after all, known as the 'Rutland beast', a moniker Dyck’s father Leslie brought up when he testified earlier in the trial.

“You knew he would get aggressive when he was drinking?” said Grabavac.

Pirko said he knew Dyck “was rude, arrogant and obnoxious” but he “didn’t know he would get physical.”

Grabavac said that if you have a nickname like the “Rutland beast” it’s because you’re a “scrapper”.

Pirko disagreed. 

Grabavac then went to the surveillance video of the two men walking down Rutland Road on the night Ausman was killed. There, he highlighted a portion of the video where Dyck was on the video waving his arms around. Not long after, Ausman can be seen crossing the road and Dyck drops his coat.

That's when Pirko said he became aware a fight would start.

The fight then took about a minute and 15 seconds before Pirko joined in, at Dyck's request, from his vantage point of about 10 feet away. 

Grabavac asked him why he took the hammer out of his pocket to intervene and didn't just use his body, or his words, to get Ausman off of Pirko.

"You did have a lot of options to get Mr. Ausman off Mr. Dyck," he said.

"I guess I did," said Pirko.

Pirko then said that he didn't think hitting Ausman with a hammer would kill him.

He knew hitting him in the head with a hammer "might have, could have caused serious bodily harm —that doesn't mean it necessarily would."

Grabavac also asked Pirko how many times he hit Ausman.

"I know for sure I remember it's twice?" he said. "I remember at least two."

Could have been more than two?

"That's a possiblity, yes," said Pirko.

The trial continues this afternoon. 

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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