Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Christopher Watts pleads guilty in deaths of wife, young daughters

Chris Watts Modal Trigger Chris Watts AP
Jeannette Daniel | 07 November, 2018, 12:39

On Tuesday, the accused pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under the age of 12.

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.

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

Watts could face three consecutive life sentences. "I was not willing to accept a concession above and beyond removing the death penalty".

The pleas were in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table however the counts still carry a life sentence. Rourke said that when the Rzuceks asked about the state of the death penalty in Colorado, he explained the potential difficulties and likely delays that would accompany that route.

The judge set sentencing for November 19 at 10 a.m.

He said he went off to work and only knew something was wrong when he was contacted later by her colleagues.

Rourke said "the spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly and frankly, a flat-out lie, has been corrected" by his guilty pleas.

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Autopsy results have not been released.

Watts, a former oil and gas worker, was charged in August with killing his pregnant 34-year-old wife and their daughters their home in Frederick, a community in the oil and gas fields north of Denver. The following day, August 15, he was arrested for the murders.

Investigators say Watts killed his family and then dumped their bodies on the property belonging to an oil company.

He buried his wife in a shallow grave and stuffed his dead daughters in oil tanks where he worked.

The cause of death for the victims has never been publicly confirmed, though court records have suggested they were strangled.

As part of the deal, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first four counts - murder.

Watts had faced the possibility of the death penalty if convicted, but under his plea agreement prosecutors pledged to not seek the death penalty, Steve Wrenn, chief deputy district attorney for Weld County, told the judge. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs, on him". Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case". I never wanted to have to stand up and have a press conference like this.

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