Dad pleads guilty in killing of pregnant wife, 2 daughters

Hugh Fox
November 8, 2018

The Colorado man accused of slaying his pregnant wife and young daughters pleaded guilty to their gruesome murders in a deal that would spare him the death penalty.

Christopher Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to five counts of murder in the first degree, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body during a court hearing in Colorado on Tuesday.

Watts' voice was shaking, and he could occasionally be heard sniffing after each time he said "guilty".

In the immediate aftermath of his August 15 arrest, Watts struggled with depression in jail and was "despondent", a source told People magazine at the time.

Shanann Watts' parents, Sandra and Frank Rzucek, as well as her brother, Frank Rzucek Jr., also attended the hearing and subsequent press conference.

With the November 6 deal, Watts has agreed to five counts of murder in the first degree, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

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Shanann, Bella and Celeste were reported missing August 13 from their home in Frederick, a town of about 8600 people about 50 kilometres north of Denver.

It's alleged he drove their bodies to an oil site, and police said the girls' bodies were found in an oil tank while his wife's body was found in a shallow grave.

He had previously claimed that after telling his wife he was having an affair, she had killed one of their children and was trying to kill another when he attacked her.

Shanann Watts, 34, and her two daughters ages 3 and 4 were reported missing.

"That, to me, was the most important consideration in deciding how to proceed with this case", Rourke said.

"I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four lovely lives".

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"I was not willing to entertain any further concessions above and beyond removing the death penalty", he said.

Rourke said he hoped the agreement would bring some measure of closure for the family, who were present during the court hearing and the press conference. He will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".

Watts is represented by the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, which does not comment on pending cases.

"What I can tell you most affirmatively today, by what happened in the courtroom, is the spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann falsely, incorrectly and frankly a flat out lie has been corrected", Rourke said.

Watts' defense attorneys came to the prosecution weeks ago with proposals for plea deals, according to Rourke, though he doesn't know why they did.

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