It wasn't the fight: Chris Ausman was killed on Kelowna street in 2014 with a hammer - InfoNews

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It wasn't the fight: Chris Ausman was killed on Kelowna street in 2014 with a hammer

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 01, 2019 - 2:11 PM

KELOWNA - Christopher Michael Ausman had just left the Rutland 7-Eleven at around 1:30 a.m. Jan. 25, 2014, when he got in a fight, said Crown counsel David Grabavac.

Within half an hour, the 32-year-old's warm but lifeless body was found by an RCMP officer on the sidewalk of Highway 33, face up with two visible streams of blood coming from it.

Grabavac, laid out to jurors the Crown's case for a second degree murder charge against Steven Pirko, 26, this morning, May 1. He said that in the years that followed Ausman's death, Pirko and his friend Elrich Dyck were put under surveillance. Pirko was finally arrested in November 2016 and ultimately confessed that he hit Ausman in the head multiple times with a hammer after a fight.

He went so far as to demonstrate the action to a police officer who he spoke to two years after the incident.

READ MORE: In loving memory of Chris Ausman

Pirko and Dyck had been drinking at a birthday party, Grabavac said, when they decided to venture out and pick fights with people they ran into. While it was his friend who was taunting people, Pirko was carrying a hammer.

Surveillance videos from nearby businesses show the two men together, said Grabavac. They also show Ausman at the 7-Eleven and then as he encountered Pirko and Dyck, then ran across the street to confront them. From there, said Grabavac, a fight ensued.

Grabavac said that Pirko told RCMP that he didn't fight initially, but when it was clear Ausman was getting the upper hand in the altercation he jumped in with the hammer.

Ausman's cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. He had a skull fracture and other lesions. His autopsy also showed his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. DNA evidence of Pirko's friend was also found on Ausman's fist.

Twenty-two witnesses will be called forward to offer evidence supporting these points, said Grabavac, who stressed that his opening statement is not evidence, simply an overview of what's to come.

The jury consists of seven women and five men, and the trial is scheduled four four to five weeks.

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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