'I was dope sick': Pirko admits to going through withdrawal during police questioning - InfoNews

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'I was dope sick': Pirko admits to going through withdrawal during police questioning

Steve Pirko is charged with the murder of Chris Ausman, who was found dead on a Rutland street in January, 2014.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
June 04, 2019 - 11:41 AM

KELOWNA - In Steven Pirko's own words, he was "dope sick" when police questioned him about Chris Ausman's death.

Pirko took the stand for the second day in a row at his trial for second-degree murder today, June 4. He's charged with killing Chris Ausman during a scuffle in Rutland on Jan. 25, 2014.

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt presented surveillance footage from the night Pirko admitted he struck Ausman in the head twice with a hammer, which he claims he did to protect his friend Elrick Dyck. The grainy footage shows a figure coming in and out of view on a street in the top right corner. Pirko confirmed the figure was him watching the fight between Ausman and Dyck that ultimately led to Pirko swinging the hammer.

Watt asked Pirko why he didn't turn himself at any point between the attack in 2014 and his arrest in 2016.

"I was scared," he said. "I didn't want to get in trouble. I didn't want to leave my mom."

When police spoke with Pirko in 2016 about Ausman, the accused was going through severe withdrawal. Pirko admitted he'd been on a speed bender before the police interview and he hadn't eaten for days. He was cold, achy and tired. He said he vomited when the police took him out for a smoke break.

"It was withdrawal coming in full effect," he said.

Watt highlighted several parts of the interview where Pirko feigned ignorance about the nature of the interview, which Pirko explained as caused by a fear of going to jail.

"I was putting up a front," he said. "I thought if I kept lying I could walk out the door."

Watt concluded his questions for Pirko and Crown lawyer David Grabavac began his cross-examination. Grabavac noted Pirko sounded like a well-spoken young man during his interview with the police. He used a Trailer Park Boys analogy to say Pirko didn't sound like the characters from that show, who are known to swear excessively.

Grabavac asked Pirko if he was familiar with hammers and if he knew swinging a hammer fast would create a stronger impact. Pirko said yes. Grabavac also outlined the idea of deny and minimize, which is the practice of first denying you did something wrong, then admitting to it, but de-emphasizing its importance.

Grabavac suggested that since Pirko was quite intoxicated on the night of the attack, he couldn't have known the size and weight of the hammer. Pirko said that was untrue and that he knew the hammer's weight.

The cross-examination is expected to continue this afternoon.

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