Chris Ausman murder: Kelowna killer sentenced to life in prison, eligibility for parole in 11 years | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Chris Ausman murder: Kelowna killer sentenced to life in prison, eligibility for parole in 11 years

Steven Randy Pirko
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
January 31, 2020 - 12:13 PM

Steven Pirko sat silently in the prisoner's box, seemingly resigned to his fate, as he was sentenced for the 2014 murder of Chris Ausman, the man he fatally bludgeoned with a hammer.

Justice Allan Betton sentenced Pirko to life in prison with eligibility for parole in 11 years.

"He has expressed remorse and in my view it's sincere," Betton said, referring to Pirko's behaviour throughout the time since his 2016 arrest. That said, Pirko "took a life in a particularly violent way."

It is not insignificant that Pirko was on probation when he committed this offence, Betton noted.

"My conclusion is some additional parole ineligibility is necessary, but in his view it's modest," he said.

Ausman's family sobbed upon hearing sentencing in what was already an emotional day, that started with Pirko's apology.

“I just want to say I am very sorry for everything I put you through. It makes me sick when I think of how sad that little girl is and how sad you all are,” Pirko said today, Jan. 31, facing Ausman’s family from the prisoner box.

“I would do anything to take it back.”

Crown counsel David Grabavac his argument for the lengthier period for parole ineligibility yesterday, Jan. 30.

Among other things, he pointed out that Pirko had racked up nine criminal convictions before he fatally swung a hammer at Ausman.

One of those convictions, the court heard yesterday, was from 2012 when he broke into the Greek Taverna.

Ironically, they installed cameras in the aftermath of that break in that ultimately tied Pirko to the Jan. 25, 2014 murder of Ausman.

Today, defence lawyer Jordan Watt finished his submission, which focused heavily on how that conviction marks a descent into criminality that could largely be chalked up to a near-tragic upbringing, defined by neglect and poverty.

Pirko was 22 years old when the killing took place and he is now 27.

“He was young and immature when the killing took place. Pirko is still a young and immature person,” Watt said.

“However he’s not the same person he was then and in 10 years he won’t be the same.”

Watt said that everyone can look back on their lives at 22 years and want a redo.

“Not a day goes by that he does not feel regret and remorse,” Watt said.

Pirko, he said, grew up in an unstable environment with minimal if any support.

He is the product of extreme neglect instability, a lack of education and familial substance abuse. He moved around a lot as a young child, and remembers living in different motels in different cities and being evicted regularly.

He was fatherless from the age of six,  and his mother struggled with addiction. His mother has been at every day of the trial, and sobbed as this argument was offered.

“(Pirko) has been candid about lack of supervision he had,” Watt said.

He also spoke about growing up in a tough neighbourhood and the experience of persistent bullying because he was poor.

Eventually, he found consolation and a sense of belonging with friends who were more criminally motivated and on drugs.

Watt also said that Ausman was not an innocent victim.

Ausman may have been drunk but, Watt said, it didn’t stop him from playing poker, walking, talking, buying cigarettes and running across the road to fight.

“He was upset and was no stranger to violence himself with a criminal record for prior criminal (offence),” Watt said.

Pirko, Watt said, didn’t run across the road with a hammer, he didn’t get involved until asked.

“This was not an unprovoked attack. Ausman was not a vulnerable person… Shown by actions, record and age. He was not a young child or an elderly individual,” Watt said.

It was not cold or calculated, not motivated by hatred or ill will.

“Pirko’s motivation, albeit the wrong motivation, was to help his friend,” Watt said.

Pirko has been in custody since November 2016. For that, he was granted nearly three years of time-served that will be applied to the sentence.


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