Colorado man pleads guilty to wife and daughter's murders

Dad accused of killing wife, kids pleads guilty to gruesome murders

Christopher Watts: Colorado man pleads guilty in killings of pregnant wife, Shannon Watts, and young daughter

A Colorado father has pleaded guilty to killing his two young daughters and his pregnant wife in a deal that removes the death penalty as a possible sentence, according to the Weld County District Attorney's Office.

Chris Watts pleaded guilty Tuesday to all nine counts he faced.

Later, as people searched for his missing family, Watts told CNN affiliate KMGH he had had an emotional conversation with his wife, Shanann, the last time he saw her.

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

Shanann Watts' family members "were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty", 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.

He told officers he loaded his wife and children's bodies into the back seat of his truck and drove them to an oil and natural gas company he worked for.

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

When the bodies were found, Watts changed his story to say his wife killed the girls after he told her he was leaving her. Later, according to his arrest affidavit, Chris claimed he killed Shan'ann in a "rage" at home after watching her strangle Celeste when he said he wanted to separate.

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The plea deal calls for Watts to be sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the deaths of Shanann, Celeste and Bella, along with additional time for the unlawful termination of the couple's unborn child, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said at a press conference following the hearing.

"I'm not sure if it's the entirety of the motive, but I will be happy to comment on that following sentencing", 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 attractive lives".

Rourke said his office discussed whether to require Watts to provide a full and accurate account of what happened during the slayings, but said everyone involved agreed Watts would never offer a truthful statement.

Rourke said he described "extraordinary delays" in carrying out the death penalty in Colorado since Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2013 decision to block the execution of Nathan Dunlap.

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

When asked how he feels, Rourke said "sick" and "saddened". "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: On him".

"No one wins today", he said.

Image: Shanann and Christopher Watts.

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