Colorado father pleads guilty allowing him to avoid the death penalty

Leroy Wright
November 7, 2018

The father accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters has pleaded guilty for the first time after reaching a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.

Watts pleaded guilty to nine counts in the case, including unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased body, the Weld County district attorney's office said in a statement Tuesday.

Shanann Watts, center, and her children are seen in this photo posted to Facebook. According to The Associated Press, Shanann Watts' parents and brother were present in the hearing.

"I do not want to be in the position of making the choice to take his", Mr Rourke said.

Watts reported his wife and their girls, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, missing August 13 from their home in Frederick, a town about 30 miles north of Denver. Shanann Watts' body was later discovered on the property of an oil and natural gas company that Christopher Watts had worked for.

The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, and Shanann Watts' body was found in a shallow grave.

According to court documents, a police investigation determined that Watts "was actively involved in an affair with a co-worker".

Police said that after they found the bodies three days later, Chris Watts, 33, then said he strangled his wife in a rage after he saw her on a baby monitor choking the couple's 3-year-old daughter.

10-year-old charged in infant's death
She reportedly told investigators she didn't want to get into trouble. "And you usually start crying", Brian Kelley said. The suspect is now being held in the Chippewa County Jail on four counts of homicide while intoxicated.

Rourke said he and another prosecutor visited Shanann Watts' family in North Carolina last month to discuss the odds of a death penalty sentence being carried out.

Rourke said Tuesday that investigators never believed that Watts was being entirely truthful.

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

"I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four handsome lives". He gave no details about that talk, only saying, "I just want them back".

While both Rourke and CBI Director John Camper said they hope this provides some closure and sense of justice, they also recognized that nothing that happens in the courtroom can fix what happened in the Watts' Frederick home in August.

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

The request not to seek the death penalty came from Shannan's family, CBS Denver reports.

"No one wins today", he said. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: On him". "I never wanted to stand up and have a press conference like this".

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