Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Chris Watts: Dad admits to killing family to avoid death penalty

Chris Watts has reached a plea deal in his murder case Chris Watts appearing in court this summer. Getty
Melinda Barton | 07 November, 2018, 16:28

Christopher Watts pleaded guilty today to the murder of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table.

Chris Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to the nine charges, including first-degree murder and unlawful termination of a pregnancy, for the August slayings of his wife, Shanann, who was found in a shallow grave, and his two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, whose remains were found in commercial oil tanks.

Police said Watts admitted to murdering his wife but claimed he killed her because she strangled their children. But he told police that he strangled her in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation.

Mr Rourke said he flew to North Carolina a few weeks ago to discuss the possible agreement with relatives of Shannan Watts and they signed off on removing the death penalty option.

Watts' voice quavered slightly as he entered the guilty pleas before Judge Marcelo Kopcow.

Rourke added that a factor in the decision was the impending gubernatorial election which could determine whether or not a governor would even enforce the death penalty if it applied.

Because the case is not finished until Watts is sentenced and a judge accepts his guilty plea, Rourke is still not answering questions about the investigation.

"The tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four attractive lives", Rourke said, "and no matter what happens today or at a sentencing hearing down the road, we cant get them back". He recalled her mother, Sandra, saying Christopher Watts "made the choice" to take the lives of his family members.

"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said following the hearing.

Watts now awaits sentencing on 19 November.

Law enforcement believe they know the motive behind the murders, as well, and Rourke said he might speak about it after the sentencing.

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

"The spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann - falsely, incorrectly and frankly a flat-out lie - has been corrected", Rourke said.

Still, he cautioned: Though the family was present for Chris' plea and the subsequent presser, they were "not prepared nor do they want to answer questions at this point".