Sam George Kastanis, 44, had family members with him when he went to his attorney's office Tuesday morning - knowing he would be arrested in connection with the death of his wife and three children.

West Jordan police officers then walked him to the Salt Lake County Jail one block away after he was charged in 3rd Circuit Court with four counts of "criminal homicide, aggravated murder," which is a capital offense.Kastanis appeared before Third Circuit Commissioner Frances Palacios on Wednesday, wearing shackles and chains for his first court appearance. He remained silent throughout the 3-minute arraignment while attorneys and commissioners explained what events would take place next.

Defense Attorney Ron Yengich filed a motion to have bail set for his client, who is currently being held in the Salt Lake County Jail without bail. Yengich said he would like the judge the commission assigned to the case to rule on bail Thursday or Friday.

After the short arraignment, two of Kastanis' sisters proclaimed their brother's innocence. They said both sides of his family, his neighbors and co-workers all believe Kastanis is innocent.

"We're just heartsick because he's innocent," said Helen Pavich, Kastanis' sister. When asked who the family believes is the killer, she replied, "We don't know. Only God knows."

Both sisters said their brother looked tired and upset at the hearing.

At a press conference Tuesday, Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom reiterated earlier statements that the investigation that prefaced Tuesday's charges stretched over seven months because officials were waiting for the results of blood tests from the FBI crime lab in Virginia.

Kastanis was jailed for a short time after the killings but was released when no


charges were filed. He returned to his job with the Salt Lake County public works department and has since sold the family's home in West Jordan at 3524 W. 6825 South where his wife and three children were found dead Nov. 17.

Yocom said he could say very little else about the investigation and charges "except to point out what is contained in the public record."

Yengich held his own press conference Tuesday afternoon to counter earlier statements that Kastanis was close to confessing to the killings when an unassigned public defender cautioned him against making further statements to detectives.

Yengich said it is the obligation of any lawyer to advise a client against self-incrimination. Salt Lake County prosecutors did not comply with Kastanis' requests for counsel, Yengich said.

He said insinuation that a confession was pending at one time "flies in the face (of information on) a video tape that was supplied to my office" by the county attorney's office. The video tape contains an interview with prosecutors and demonstrates Kastanis never intended to claim responsibility for the death of his wife and children.

"He continually denied involvement," Yengich said.

According to the probable cause statement accompanying the murder charges, Kastanis had said he was in his garage on the morning of Nov. 17 "working on calculations for the sale of his residence and the purchase of a new residence for his family despite the fact that his wife had expressed her desire to divorce him, and that he did not wish to pursue the custody of his minor children.

"Margaret Kastanis (his wife) had executed the contract for the sale of their residence on the evening before the events transcribed in this information."

Kastanis said he returned to the house at about 10:30 that morning and followed a trail of blood drops into the main-floor bathroom where he found his 9-year-old son, Clint. He then reportedly called 911 and said his son was bleeding from the nose.

"Sam Kastanis then successively described more serious injuries which escalated from `cut fingers' to a statement to the effect that his son was `seriously injured and not breathing,' " the statement says.

Emergency personnel responding to the house after the 911 operator reported hearing Kastanis say "Margaret, you've killed yourself," according to the probable cause statement. She was found in a basement bedroom with a hammer and knife near her left hand. His daughters, Melissa, 11, and Christy, 6, were found dead in another basement bedroom.

"Kastanis maintained that Margaret Kastanis had committed the killings and volunteered that he had observed the weapons in her grasp," the probable cause statement reads, adding that each of the victims suffered "sharp force injuries consistent with the knife seized from the residence" and that the children had also suffered "blunt force injuries to the head consistent with being struck with the hammer seized from the residence."

Some of the sharp-force injuries on Margaret, Clint and Melissa were consistent with injuries referred to as "defensive wounds" normally incurred while fighting off an attacker during a violent struggle.

Yengich said he and Yocom "talked on a number of occasions" during the investigation about "alternatives to charging (Kastanis)" but that a plea bargain was not discussed. Neither he nor Yengich would say what those alternatives might have been.

There was also no speculation on whether the defense will pursue in its case the claim that Kastanis' wife killed the children and then committed suicide.