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

08 November 2018
Chris Watts: Dad admits to killing family to avoid death penalty

A man accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters has pleaded guilty in court.

With the agreement of the victims' family, the district attorney eliminated the death penalty from consideration in exchange for Watts' guilty plea to all nine counts.

On Tuesday, Watts pleaded guilty to nine counts; four counts of murder (one for each child, his wife and their unborn child), unlawful termination of pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

After his pregnant wife and two daughters disappeared, Watts stood on his porch in Colorado and told reporters how much he missed them.

Shanann's parents Frank and Sandra Rzucek are pictured at the press conference after his hearing on Tuesday.

The family agreed to the deal, prosecutors said.

Shanann Watts, Bella and Celeste were first reported missing on August 13 by one of Shanann Watts' friends.

Police found Shanann's body in a shallow grave Watts dug on the property of Anardarko Petroleum, where he had worked. The three bodies were found on property near Roggen owned by Anadarko Petroleum Co., where Watts worked as an operator until August 15. Investigators later learned Watts had been involved in an affair with a coworker, the affidavit states.

Police said that after they found the bodies three days later, Chris Watts, 33, then said he strangled his wife in a rage after he saw her on a baby monitor choking the couple's 3-year-old daughter. Watts has claimed Shanann had killed one daughter and was actively trying to kill the other when he attacked her in an act of passion, CBS Denver reported.

"I do not want to be in the position of making the choice to take his", Rourke said, quoting Sandra.

Watts' family had previously said they were keeping an open mind about what had happened the night his family went missing in light of his initial version of events. "I was not willing to accept a concession above and beyond removing the death penalty".

Colorado law requires that a first-degree murder conviction brings a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. But he said: "I know that will never be fully realized, because the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four handsome lives".

Rourke said he and another prosecutor visited Shanann Watts' family in North Carolina last month to discuss the odds of a death penalty sentence being carried out. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".

But in his guilty plea, Watts made it clear that he, and not his wife, had killed the girls. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs, on him".