'My shattered heart will never heal,' Kelowna murder victim's mother says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'My shattered heart will never heal,' Kelowna murder victim's mother says

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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January 30, 2020 - 11:51 AM

Christopher Ausman's family and friends gathered in Kelowna today to see his killer sentenced, just days after the violent crime's six-year anniversary.

Steven Pirko was convicted in June 2019 for fatally smashing Ausman in the head with a hammer on Jan. 25, 2014. Second-degree murder comes with a life sentence, so the question being weighed in court today, Jan. 30, is how long should Pirko be incarcerated until he’s eligible for parole. 

Crown counsel David Grabavac told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton that the appropriate sentence before parole eligibility is between 12 and 15 years. Defence lawyer Jordan Watt said that 10 years is an appropriate amount of time while the jury recommended 12 years.

Grabavac told Betton the consequences of Ausman’s death were “horrible, devastating, life-altering and tragic,” for Pirko, Ausman and all of their families forever.

The consequences for Ausman’s loved ones were laid bare when family members read victim impact statements to the court.

Ausman’s mother Anne Hutton moved the room to tears when she talked about the pain they all continually struggle to make sense of, in the wake of his murder.

“My shattered heart will never heal,” Hutton said, adding that knowing she will never again hear Chris’s voice, hug him or laugh at him causes constant pain.

The day he died, Hutton told the court, “a soul-crushing weight” was placed like an anvil on her heart and she’s been forced to carry it forever.

She carries that weight, as well as the pain felt by his brother, daughter, dad and friends.

“I absorb their pain on top of my own,” she said.

Addressing Ausman in her victim impact letter, she told her son that when she closes her eyes she can still feel his arms around her.

“It’s not the same but gives me the strength to carry on and be the mom and grandmother that would make you proud."

Ausman’s daughter, Dylynn Couttie, 16, also spoke of the devastation she suffers and anxiety she feels as the realization of the hand dealt to her sets in. Lessons are being lost and milestones will be missed. She told the court that she knows that she will never truly understand who he was to her. 

“I will never remember what his voice was like or how he dressed,” she said. “I only had a father for 10 years and half of those I can’t remember.”

While much of what was said in the victim impact statements addressed how losing Ausman is being felt, there was also some insight into who he was.

Everyone who spoke mentioned how Ausman would make them laugh and his loving nature.

His stepdad Bob Hutton mentioned his smirk and how he was quick to lend a hand and the mother of Ausman's daughter, Misty Nabess said how he always knew just what to say to Dylynn when her emotions ran high. He coparented lovingly with her.

Ausman suffered significant head injuries consistent with hammer blows, and had a dozen more cuts and abrasions to his face. He had a broken nose and had a tooth knocked out.

The injuries, Grabavac told jurors during the trial, negated the story that Pirko's friend Elrich Dyck had been the losing participant of a fight he willingly entered.

He repeated that idea in sentencing, saying Ausman didn’t die because he died in engaged in a consensual drunken fight.

“(Pirko) brought a hammer into a fistfight” he wasn’t even a part of. 

Highlighting that the killing wasn't just a one-off, Grabavac told the court that Pirko had already racked up nine convictions before he murdered Ausman.

One of the convictions had to do with breaking into the Greek Taverna restaurant.

Ironically, that's why they installed cameras which were ultimately used to tie Pirko to the murder and in evidence used to eventually convict him.

Once he becomes eligible for parole, it doesn't mean Pirko will be released. That will be decided by the parole board.

Justice Allan Betton said that he will sentence Pirko Friday morning.

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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