Chris Ausman's family closes terrible chapter after sentencing

Family moves past tragedy

Following Steven Pirko's sentencing Friday, Chris Ausman's mother, Annie Hutton, hugged the mother of her son's killer, Carrie. The two cried as Carrie apologized to Annie. 

The touching moment between the two mothers comes six years after Pirko killed Chris Ausman with a hammer, the result of a drunken fight between strangers. The two women shared the same courtroom for weeks throughout 2019, listening to the tragic details of the 2014 murder.

Six years later, the sentencing has brought some sense of closure to Ausman's family. 

“We can move forward now, to start our lives, to start a new journey,” Annie said.

“There is no closing of a door, there are no goodbyes for us. Wherever we are, whatever we're doing, we know that Christopher Michael is with us.”

Outside the courthouse, Annie showed off her first tattoo: “Love you so much mom, Chris xoxo.”

The tattoo, written in Chris's writing on her left arm, was taken from the last Christmas card she ever received from her son. The tattoo was Annie's 60th birthday present to herself.

While Steven Pirko was identified by police as a suspect a few days after Ausman's death, he wasn't arrested until almost three years later. The long wait was tough for Chris's loved ones.

“A lot of sleepless nights over the years, just wondering what's happening,” said younger brother Kelly Ausman. “The first two years when we didn't have any answers, you know, what happened?”

Kelly was with his brother at a poker game the night Chris was killed.

“My last words to him were 'I love you,' which I feel blessed to have said that. We were best friends and we were brothers, as tight as you could be,” Kelly said.

“You don't realize how important somebody is in your life until you can't tell them how important they are in your life.”

Chris was a son, a brother, a partner and a friend to many, but he was a father to just one person. Dylynn Couttie lost her dad when she was just 10 years old.

“It definitely feels like I can close this chapter,” said Dylynn, now 16. “It definitely came at a good time for me, I'm graduating next year, and I'm happy this is done. I think it's good to move on.

“We're happy that even though all of this happened, we still have such a strong family connection. I know some people don't even get to this point, and there's families that don't get to do what we did today ... we're really grateful for that.”

The strength of the tight-knit family was on display throughout the six-week trial, and during sentencing submissions this week.

“We have an amazing family unit. None of us have pulled apart from each other, we have gotten closer if anything,” Annie said. “That's what keeps us going, that strength, that love, that support.”

Pirko's mother Carrie attended court throughout the six-week trial, and during sentencing submissions this week. 

“She lost a son too, her son's gone for a long time, and I just had to hug her,” Annie said. “I said to her to pass this on to Steven for me, to tell him when he goes into prison, take advantage of what he can do in there, get his education, learn, come out at the other end being a stronger and better person and help people on the street like he was.”

Pirko will be eligible for parole in mid-2028.

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