Accused killer testifies

The man accused of killing a 32-year-old father in 2014 in Rutland took the stand this week to testify in his defence.

Steven Pirko's second-degree murder trial entered its sixth week with the accused taking the stand, after the Crown wrapped up its evidence submissions Monday. 

Throughout the long trial, the jury has heard Pirko and his friend Elrich Dyck were walking to the 7-Eleven on Highway 33 after leaving a party in the early hours of Jan. 25, 2014. Dyck got into a fight with Chris Ausman on the street, and after Ausman got the upper hand, Pirko struck him in the head with a hammer he had been carrying. Ausman was found dead by a police officer a short while later.

On Tuesday, Pirko testified he wanted to help his friend, but never intended to kill Ausman.

“A bunch of things could have happened, (Dyck) could have got knocked down, could have got kicked in the head a bunch of times on the ground, he could have died. Who knows?” Pirko said. 

He said he ran from the scene because he “panicked.”

Following their altercation with Ausman, Pirko and Dyck ran to Dyck's house. The pair walked back to the scene to “see if (Ausman) was OK,” but Pirko said he “didn't have the nerve to walk right up” after seeing red and blue police lights.

During cross examination, Pirko explained he had been carrying the hammer for about two weeks prior to the fight with Ausman, after he had been threatened by another man in Rutland.

“Rutland's kind of a rough neighbourhood. I've been jumped before, I've been sprayed with bear mace,” Pirko told Crown prosecutor David Grabavac. “There's lots of people who are kind of hooligans in Rutland.”

Pirko also detailed his growing drug problem Tuesday, following Ausman's death. He said he was using heroin and crystal meth daily by the time he was arrested for the murder, almost three years after Ausman was killed. At the time, Pirko was living in a “drug shack” on Prior Road, just a couple blocks from where he had struck Ausman with the hammer.

On Nov. 18, 2016, police arrested him at the 7-Eleven on Rutland Road, the same store he and Dyck had been heading to on the night of Ausman's death.

He testified he hasn't used heroin or crystal meth since his arrest, and he had stopped drinking about a year before that. 

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