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`I DIDN’T KILL FAMILY,’ KASTANIS REPEATS

SHARE `I DIDN’T KILL FAMILY,’ KASTANIS REPEATS

Sam Kastanis, his voice cracking somewhat, resumed the witness stand Monday and again emphatically denied killing his wife and three children.

"As God is my witness, I didn't kill my family," he said. "Margaret knows. Melissa knows. Clinton knows. Chrissy knows. God knows and I know."Kastanis described the morning on Nov. 17, 1991, when he said he walked into his West Jordan home and discovered his family. He described to the jury how he first discovered 9-year-old Clinton in the upstairs bathroom. "Clint was lying in the bathroom on the floor and there was a lot of blood," he said.

He knelt down and shook his son but got no response. He then yelled for the other children. "The only thing I thought is, this is traumatic. Margaret had to take the two girls out of here," he said.

Kastanis called 911 and said he tried to resuscitate Clinton. Once paramedics arrived, they asked if there was anyone else in the house. Thinking of the rest of his family, he said he ran downstairs.

Halfway down the stairs, Kastanis said he could see his wife and two daughters lying on the bedroom floor.

"The only thing I could think was, `Holy cow, what crazy person done that,' " he said. He said he shook the kids and then rolled his wife's body over. It was then that he saw the hammer and knife.

"The only thing I could think of right then and there is `Oh my God, she's killed the kids and killed herself,' " he said.Paramedics ordered Kastanis to go upstairs, where he said he washed his hands, rinsed his mouth out and sat at the kitchen table. Minutes later he was told his family was dead.

"That's when I collapsed and fell to the table," he said. "I was on my knees and that's when they handcuffed me."

Defense attorney Ron Yengich asked Kastanis if he had expressed much emotion on that day. "I might not have shown it with tears streaming down my face," he said. "But the inside was just killing me."

One of the last defense witnesses to testify before Kastanis took the stand Friday was a criminalist who questioned the reliability of two of the state's key points of evidence.

Richard H. Fox, a private consulting criminalist from California, said he believes a bloodstain on the front of the jacket Kastanis was wearing the morning of the slayings could have been misidentified as a child's bloody hand print.

The prosecution's blood-spatter expert said the pattern came from Christine Kastanis, who pushed her hand against her father and grabbed his jacket during the attack. But Fox said there are other possibilities.

"I can see why someone would think it was a palm print," he said, explaining that he could not rule out that possibility. But he conducted tests on a similar jacket and matched the pattern using other scenarios.

Fox said his first tests showed that a large hand could also cause the same pattern, depending on the pressure applied and the amount of blood on the hand. Additional experiments indicated that the pattern could have also been made from the sleeves of the shirt Kastanis was wearing.

When treated with a chemical, the sleeves of Kastanis' shirt revealed a "rib-pattern" of blood, Fox said. While the blood was still wet, it could have transferred onto the jacket and left the stain.

"Now, what could be a palm print, in my opinion, could be (from) a sleeve," he testified. "To me, it's more likely to be from the sleeve or something like the sleeve."

Under cross-examination, Fox said he did not take into account testimony that the blood on the jacket came from either Melissa, 11, or 6-year-old Christine. However, he said that since Kastanis had touched and shaken the victims, his sleeve scenario could still fit.

He also testified that a hair found in Margaret Kastanis' hand could have come from either the head of Sam Kastanis or Clinton Kastanis, despite earlier testimony that the hair is only consistent with Sam Kastanis' hair and had been pulled from his head.

Fox was the defense's most expensive witness, charging nearly $15,000 for more than 130 hours of work.