While the two-week preliminary hearing for Sam Kastanis is over, the battle is far from it.
The West Jordan man accused of killing his wife and three children was ordered back to jail Monday. And unless a higher court overturns Judge Michael Hutchings' decision to revoke his $125,000 bond, Kastanis will likely ask for a trial date as soon as the court can accommodate one.But any trial would likely last several weeks longer than the two-week preliminary hearing and may be difficult to schedule. There will also likely be several defense motions made to suppress evidence before a jury is convened.
Just as he did throughout the hearing, Kastanis showed no emotion when the bailiff cuffed him and escorted him out of the courtroom Monday. His two sisters, who put up their homes as part of his bond in June and sat behind him throughout each day of testimony, hugged one another as he was taken away. One of them buried her head in her hands.
Glenn Jenkins, brother to Margaret Kastanis, said the family continues to support the man charged with killing her.
"I think he's innocent" despite evidence presented in the hearing, Jenkins said. "There is no indication he would do any such thing."
Although he ordered Kastanis to stand trial, Hutchings did grant a defense motion to delete one of three theories the prosecution charged against Kastanis to justify the capital murder charges.
Prosecutors say Kastanis killed the victims during an episode in which two or more people were killed, that he killed for personal and financial gain and that he killed to prevent them from testifying against him. But Hutchings said there was no evidence to show Kastanis killed the family for any personal or financial gain and dismissed that theory.
During closing arguments, Salt Lake County deputy attorney Kent Morgan said even without the testimony from the blood-spatter expert, there was enough evidence to show Kastanis committed the crimes.
Nothing indicates an intruder did the killings, Morgan said. But what about Kastanis' belief that Margaret Kastanis killed the children and then killed herself?
Morgan said blood smeared outside the bedroom where she and her daughters were found is from Margaret's palms. Investigators believe she was being forced through the doorway and fought efforts to do so as she backed into the bedroom. "Who is she afraid of if she's doing the injury?" Morgan asked.
He also pointed to defensive wounds on her hands, including a wound that cut to the bone of her middle finger, and said it would have been difficult for an attacker to injure oneself as she was wounded.
Even with such injury, it would have been difficult to stab herself four times to the chest, including one that was reinserted nearly 5 inches, Morgan said. The wounds were also at a very unusual angle for someone who would stab oneself.
But Yengich pointed to testimony from an assistant medical examiner who conceded Margaret could have stabbed herself. None of the experts were told about two friends of Margaret, who told police a depressed Margaret confided she felt she wasn't a good mother or wife and "wouldn't be around much longer," he said.
Morgan reminded the judge of marks on Kastanis' pants that spatter-expert Rod Englert said were where a bloody knife was wiped clean. Kastanis told police he never touched the knife. "If he did not kill the people and he did pick up the knife, why would he deny that?" Morgan asked.
But in addition to bloody footprints and blood spatters on Kastanis' clothing that showed he had to be present when the killings took place and not in the garage as he said he was, Morgan said one piece of evidence alone could establish Kastanis as the killer - a bloody hand impression on Kastanis' jacket.
The print matches the blood type and size of 6-year-old Christine Kastanis. Englert testified that the handprint was applied to the jacket with force as if to defend herself from the attack.
"There's something here telling us beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in contact with Christine Kastanis when she was still alive and her hand was bloody," Morgan said.
But Yengich blasted Englert, saying his opinions were "fraught with danger because he didn't take everything into account." Englert, he said, was the state's "entire case."
Yengich spoke of Englert after the hearing and commented, "I'll find you an expert for whatever you want."
The defense attorney said an FBI expert who also investigated the case has yet to compare Christine's handprint with the print on the jacket and make conclusions as Englert did. The print is not visible to the naked eye and was seen only after sprayed with a substance that illuminates blood.
Yengich said blood from Clinton, 9, on the home's back door indicates Clinton may have tried to run out of the house after being initially attacked. "Why would Clint go to the rear door. Why? Because his dad's out there," he said.
And Yengich said Margaret's blood found in her husband's downstairs bedroom can be reasonably explained by an assumption that she walked to that window to see if her husband was coming from the garage.
Finally, Yengich argued that his client had no motive to kill. Margaret was troubled because she couldn't care for her children, but she and Sam Kastanis had a loving relationship, he said.
Morgan, however, said the couple had - by Kastanis' own admission - been experiencing a year of trouble in their marriage and had talked of divorce. He said the couple was "two individuals so unhappy about their living arrangements they've got to get out and in this case the defendant chose to kill his family."