Colorado man pleads guilty to wife and daughter's murders


The former oil worker admitted in a Colorado court he strangled his pregnant wife Shanann and their two children - Celeste, 3, and 4-year-old Bella - in order to reach a plea deal, resulting in the state removing the death penalty as an option for his punishment.

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

Watts killed wife Shanann, 34, along with their daughters Bella, four, and Celeste, three, on either August 12 or 13. If it goes as planned, Rourke said he will not fight the release of the autopsy reports for Shanann Watts and her daughters.

The request to not seek the death penalty came from Shanann Watts' family.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke called Watts' story "a flat-out lie" and said he deserved a life sentence for each of the nine counts to which he had pleaded guilty. He said the family was strongly against pursuing the death penalty, especially after they discussed the extensive delays in the process in Colorado. Police have said Watts then drove their bodies to an oil site owned by his former employer.

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

The family agreed to the deal, prosecutors said.

Watts could now reportedly face three consecutive life terms at a sentencing hearing, scheduled for 19 November.

Watts appeared on the "Today" show two days after his wife's disappearance to say he was living a "nightmare", CBS News reported at the time.

Shanann Watts' mother, father and brother were in court Tuesday but chose not to speak to the media. The three bodies were found on property near Roggen owned by Anadarko Petroleum Co., where Watts worked as an operator until August 15.

"That's about as firmly as she could have said it to me".

'I do not want to be in the position of choosing to take his'.

At first, Watts said he and his wife had been up all night having an emotional conversation.

'I don't know how I could have sat in Sandy's kitchen and asked her to commit the next 25 years of her life to the criminal justice system without any assurance that the sentence would ever actually be imposed, ' he said. Rourke said their wishes were the most compelling factor for him in reaching the plea agreement. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs, on him".

Rourke said investigators believe they have a partial motive for the slayings, but said he wouldn't give details until after Watts is sentenced.