Colorado man pleads guilty to killing pregnant wife, kids

Cheryl Sanders
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.

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado.

Watts replied "guilty" nine times in response to Judge Marcelo Kopcow's reading of each charge.

Nevertheless, Mrs Watts had written upbeat social media posts about her daughters, pregnancy and love for her husband not long before she died. According to The Associated Press, Shanann Watts' parents and brother were present in the hearing.

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.


Those who knew the Watts family have described a seemingly happy marriage possibly beset by rising tension, and his infidelity has drawn scrutiny: Authorities have said Chris was cheating with a co-worker when he murdered 34-year-old Shan'ann, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Police have said Watts drove their bodies to an oil site owned by his former employer.

The children's bodies were found in oil tanks by their mother's shallow grave. Investigators later learned Watts had been involved in an affair with a coworker, the affidavit states.

Watts initially claimed he killed his wife in an act of passion after finding one daughter dead and Shanann trying to kill the other.

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.

Rourke called those claims a "flat out lie" and said he did not believe Christopher Watts would give authorities a full, accurate and truthful statement.


Mr Rourke said he was not willing to dismiss any charges in exchange for the promise of guilty pleas.

"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 can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said following the hearing. If it goes as planned, Rourke said he will not fight the release of the autopsy reports for Shanann Watts and her daughters.

He said the family was strongly against pursuing the death penalty, especially after they discussed the extensive delays in the process in Colorado. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs - on him", Rourke said.

When asked how he feels, Rourke said "sick" and "saddened". I never wanted to have to stand up and have a press conference like this.


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