Man pleads guilty to killing pregnant wife and young daughters

Christopher Watts Arraignment Hearing in Murder Of Wife And Children

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse

A dad who admitted to killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters will now avoid the death penalty after pleading guilty to their horrific murders.

Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to each of the nine counts he faces, including three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under the age of 12 in a position of trust for the August deaths of his wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, according to Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke.

Initially, Watts told police that he killed his wife in a rage; that she had strangled the daughters after he had acknowledged an affair and his intention to separate. 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.

Rourke said he flew to North Carolina to discuss the possible agreement with relatives of Shanann Watts and they signed off on removing the death penalty option.

Watts appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to all nine counts against him, including five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

'They were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty. The two girls were submerged in oil tanks, and Shanann Watts was in a shallow grave nearby.

'That to me was the most important consideration in deciding how to proceed in this a case.

Watts said in court he is satisfied with his defense representation and is knowingly accepting this plead deal.

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A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 19. The three bodies were found on property near Roggen owned by Anadarko Petroleum Co., where Watts worked as an operator until August 15.

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

He said he went off to work and only knew something was wrong when he was contacted later by her colleagues. "I just want them to come back".

He said there were no winners in reaching a plea deal.

Image: Shanann and Christopher Watts.

"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". The spotlight shines squarely on him, ' he said.

Rourke said "the spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly and frankly, a flat-out lie, has been corrected" by his guilty pleas.

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