Convicted killer Steven Pirko’s sentencing hearing began Thursday morning.
Pirko was found guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of Chris Ausman in January 2014.
Ausman was found dead on the sidewalk on Highway 33 in Rutland after what was proven to be a vicious attack by Pirko, when he used a hammer to strike Ausman three times in the head, causing his death.
The courtroom was filled with the victim’s family, nearly all of them wearing a blue shirt with angel wings on their backs.
The sentencing hearing began with four tearful victim statements from Ausman’s mother, girlfriend, 16-year-old daughter and stepfather.
Ausman’s mother told the court that she is “living every parent’s worst nightmare” and that “if I close my eyes, I can still feel his arms around me.”
“My shattered heart will never heal,” said Anne Hutton, the victim’s mother. “Our family life is broken forever.”
Hutton told the court that when she heard the news of her son’s passing, “I felt the skin detach from my body.
“My three-kilometre drive from work suddenly felt cross-country.”
Ausman’s daughter tearfully addressed the court: “Now I’m left with distant memories.”
“I will never know who my father was,” said Dylynn Couttie, Ausman’s daughter. “I only had a father for 10 years and half of those I can’t remember.”
The mother of Ausman’s daughter, Misty Nabess, told the court, “Chris was my best friend. Every day has moments of struggle, every day brings pain.”
She went on to say that Pirko “robbed her daughter of the woman she should have become.”
Pirko faces life in prison for the second-degree murder.
The Crown has recommended Pirko be ineligible for parole for 12 to 15 years, but that decision will be up to the judge.
Pirko sat with his head down for most of the hearing, occasionally lifting his head to look upon the court room.
It is expected that Pirko’s sentence will be handed down Friday morning.