Murder trial hears Kelowna man died from skull fracture - InfoNews

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Murder trial hears Kelowna man died from skull fracture

Christopher Ausman's body was found on the sidewalk in the 100 block of Highway 33 early in the morning on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2014.
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May 29, 2019 - 2:45 PM

KELOWNA - Chris Ausman died from a skull fracture that was the likely result of blows to the head by an object consistent with a hammer, jurors in Steven Pirko’s second degree murder trial were told this week.

“The only characteristics of a hypothetical hammer that may have caused these injuries might be the striking surface was in the realm of two to 2.5 centimetres and that it was hard and circular striking surface,” said Dr. Jason Doyle who gave evidence about the autopsy he conducted on Ausman, who was found dead Jan. 25, 2014 on the corner of Rutland Road and Highway 33, in Kelowna. 

“But the the weight or the length of the shaft couldn’t be concluded at all from the injuries.”

The “hypothetical hammer” — and its size — was discussed at great length in Kelowna court today, May 29.

A murder weapon has not been entered into evidence, but during his confession to RCMP in November of 2016, Pirko said he struck Ausman with the hammer repeatedly in an effort to help a friend who was being beaten up. He claimed a couple of those strikes were to his legs, and more were at his head.

When Pirko’s friend Elrich Dyck testified last week, however, he told jurors he remembered being beaten up by Ausman, and that he never lifted a finger in his own defence. As Pirko jumped in it was only to help him, he said. He claimed not to know the methods Pirko used, or whether there was a hammer involved at all.

That said, much of Dyck’s account of the confrontation seems to be at odds with medical evidence offered by Doyle.

Doyle told jurors there were a total of 15 injuries to Ausman’s face, beyond the lethal hammer blows. They were likely the result of a fist fight or being kicked. He also said that there was no evidence of injuries to his legs.

Ausman did however have “obvious abrasions to the knuckles consistent with a fist fight.”

Lastly, defence lawyer Alexander Watt questioned whether the fatal fracture to Ausman’s skull could have been caused by a pebble during his fall.

Although Doyle said it was possible, in cross examination he said that in all of his examination of the scene taken by RCMP he never saw a stone or rock in the vicinity of Ausman’s body.

The trial will resume Friday, May 31.

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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