Steven Pirko found guilty in 2014 Kelowna murder - InfoNews

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Steven Pirko found guilty in 2014 Kelowna murder

Steve Pirko is charged with the murder of Chris Ausman, who was found dead on a Rutland street in January, 2014.
June 15, 2019 - 11:03 AM

KELOWNA -  Steven Pirko was found guilty of second degree murder this morning in the 2014 death of Chris Ausman.

Jurors returned with the guilty verdict at 11 a.m. June 15, a little more than a day after deliberations got underway.

Ausman's family, who had been at every day of the trial, were immediately brought to tears as the verdict was read and stood to hug and comfort each other 

Pirko, on the other hand, remained still, just like he did throughout the trial.  The mandatory minimum sentence for second degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. Along with the verdict, the jury recommended Pirko serve 12 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.

Jurors had been asked to consider whether Pirko fatally hit Ausman in the head Jan. 25, 2014 because he was trying to protect his friend, Elrich Dyck, or if he jumped into a fight he wasn't a part of, knowing perfectly well that his actions could kill. The second degree murder guilty verdict indicates jurors believed the latter argument. 

The trial took place over seven weeks, most of which was taken up by Crown counsel David Grabavac's evidence, which showed, among other things,  that Ausman had been brutally beaten in the moments before his death. 

Not only did he have three significant injuries to the side of his head consistent with hammer blows, Ausman also 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, negated the story that Dyck had been the losing participant of a fight he willingly entered. It didn't appear that Ausman had been winning the fight at all. His blood alcohol on the night he died certainly didn't help him. It was three times the legal limit and surveillance video taken from 7-Eleven minutes before he died showed he struggled with the simple act of taking cash out of the ATM.

Jordan Watt, Pirko's defense lawyer, expressed his disappointment in the verdict. He believed there were better alternative verdicts available to the jury aside from second-degree murder. He said the trial has been an ordeal for his client and the Ausman family.

"It's been horrible," he said. "It's a tragic situation for him and obviously for the Ausman family."

Crown and defense counsel will return to court on July 2 to set a date for sentencing.

After the judge dismissed the jury, Pirko hugged his mother.

— Updated June 15, 2019 at 11:53 a.m. to add comments from Steven Pirko's lawyer and details about the jury's parole recommendation.

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