Chris Watts pleads guilty to murders of pregnant wife and two young daughters, escapes death penalty
The plea deal was approved by Shanann's family after they made it clear to the district attorney that they did not want Watts to die like the way he ended the lives of his family
Chris Watts, the Colorado man accused of killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters, has pleaded guilty to the murders. Watts taking the plea deal from prosecutors on November 6 means that he will not be facing the death penalty for his crimes.
Thirty four-year-old Shanann Watts and the couples' two daughters - 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste - were found dead in August inside oil tanks in Weld County just days after Watts reported them missing and went on live TV begging for the "kidnappers" to bring his family home, the Daily Mail reported.
Initially Watts denied he had anything to do with the murders, but with his latest plea he will probably be in prison for the rest of his life. The plea deal was approved by Shanann's family after they made it clear to the district attorney that they did not want Watts to die like the way he ended the lives of his family.
The family did not say a word during the hearing and watched as the DA announced the verdict.
Colorado dad Chris Watts pled guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters to avoid the death penalty. Weld County's district attorney Michael Rourke explains. https://t.co/dkPWu0GG5h pic.twitter.com/GqNufOerhu— USA TODAY Video (@usatodayvideo) November 7, 2018
The pregnant mother's body was found in a shallow grave in one of the crude oil fields of Anadarko Petroleum, where Watts was previously employed. Shanann was 15-weeks pregnant with a baby boy whom the couple had planned to name Nico. It was reported later that 33-year-old Watts had been having an affair.
Watts changed his story about his family being kidnapped after the bodies were found and said that Shanann was strangling Celeste after having already strangled Bella to death following an emotional conversation the couple had about divorcing each other.
He said that he saw Shanann strangling Celeste on the baby monitor and went into a rage which led to him strangling his pregnant wife.
As a part of his defense, Watts' attorneys refused to give the prosecutors DNA samples from his hand and feet. This was likely a move to stop the prosecutors from matching it to any DNA that was collected from the bodies of the mother and children. There was also the issue of the children's bodies being immersed in oil for three days before they were found making the process of collecting DNA very difficult.
Watts pleaded guilty to nine counts - four counts of murder (one count each for the girls, his wife, and their unborn child), unlawful termination of pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. He took the prosecutor's deal meaning he will be sentenced to life behind bars for the first four counts, which was murder. The sentencing is set to begin for the other crimes on November 19.
All the details on Chris Watts pleading guilty pic.twitter.com/2odDueqOTq— Ryan Luby (@LubyDenver7) November 6, 2018
After the hearing, Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke revealed at a press conference that Shanann's family did not want Watts to be executed. According to Rourke, the pregnant woman's mother Sandra Rzucek, told him: "He made the choice to take those lives. I do not want to be in the position of choosing to take his."
Rourke also added that one of the factors in that decision was the upcoming gubernatorial election which could determine if a governor would even enforce the death penalty in the state.
During the plea hearing, Rourke said that the claims by Watts that his wife had killed his daughters were finally put to rest. He said: "The spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely and incorrectly - a flat out lie - has been corrected. The spotlight shines squarely on him."