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Criado faces 36 counts

Jordan Criado, suspected of killing his family on 10th Street on July 18, sat in a wheelchair with his head lolling to the side and offered barely audible responses during his arraignment hearing Friday afternoon before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia.

Criado, 51, appeared in court via a video feed from the county jail, having been released from a local hospital Thursday afternoon. Criado faces 24 counts of aggravated murder and four counts each of murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree arson.

Criado is suspected of killing his 30-year-old wife, Tabasha Paige-Criado, and children Elijah, 7, Isaac, 6, Andrew, 5, and Aurora, 2.

Criado kept his eyes closed and made a mumbling request for a lawyer and a pastor as Mejia explained he could be facing the death penalty for the aggravated murder charges and a life sentence on other charges.

"May I see Pastor Gomez, please," Criado murmured.

Mejia told Criado to discuss his request with the jail staff, and set a preliminary hearing for Aug. 10.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert said Criado's case will go before the grand jury next week. His current charges may change based on what the jury determines, she said.

Heckert said no determination has yet been made on whether the state will seek the death penalty if the grand jury returns an indictment on those charges.

"That (decision) is quite a few months down the road," Heckert said, adding Criado will most likely be represented by an out-of-area public defender familiar with death-penalty cases.

Heckert said she contacted members of the victims' family and informed them of Criado's condition change, his arrest and the charges.

The numerous charges against Criado address the five victims and the different legal theories related to their deaths, explained Heckert.Correction: The headline on this story has been corrected to reflect the number of charges initially filed.

The first four counts of aggravated murder relate to the murder of the Criado children, who were all under the age of 14, an aggravating factor under Oregon murder statutes. The next 20 counts relate to combinations of multiple victims, another aggravating factor, Heckert said.

"For example, the mother with one child, the mother with another child, and any other combination that covers the five victims," she said.

The four counts each of murder, first-degree manslaughter and arson all relate to the children and the manner in which they died, Heckert added.

Preliminary autopsy results showed Paige-Criado died from multiple stab wounds to her neck and abdomen, while Isaac and Andrew died from stab wounds to the neck and probable carbon monoxide poisoning from the arson fire. The autopsies also concluded Elijah and Aurora probably died from carbon monoxide poisoning, which will be determined through pending toxicology tests.

Criado initially was listed in critical condition by hospital officials who said he was non-responsive and breathing with the help of a ventilator in the days after the fire at the family home at 1027 10th St. However, as of last Thursday, hospital officials declined to release updates on Criado's condition, citing the ongoing police investigation and privacy laws.

Medford Police Chief Tim George said Criado's medical condition improved over the past week, adding Criado was conscious and alert at the time he was released from the hospital by doctors.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Jordan Criado, 51, appears on screen Friday afternoon in the courtroom of Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia for arraignment on 24 counts of aggravated murder and four counts each of murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree arson. - Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch