Thursday, 21 March, 2019


Colorado father pleads guilty allowing him to avoid the death penalty

Chris Watts Modal Trigger Chris Watts AP
Bennie Garza | 07 November, 2018, 20:33

A Colorado man charged with killing his pregnant wife and two daughters pleaded guilty Tuesday under a plea deal that will allow him 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.

Shanann Watts' family members "were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty", Rourke said.

Rourke said at a press conference that the plea deal was made with the support of Shanann Watts' family, and after he explained what he called the "extraordinary delays that now exist" in Colorado in putting prisoners to death.

Rourke said he hoped the agreement would bring some measure of closure for the family, who were present during the court hearing and the press conference.

But, he said, "I think all of us who were involved never truly believed that he would give us an accurate statement".

The plea deal includes a sentencing agreement that Christopher Watts will be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.

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

Shanann Watts' mother, father and brother were in court but chose not to speak with the media.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigations later said Shanann Watts and the girls were murdered inside their home.

He also pleaded guilty to unlawful termination of a pregnancy, as Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a son her family said would have been named Nico, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

In a later interview, the arrest affidavit says, Watts claimed that he had seen on a baby monitor that his younger daughter appeared dead and his wife was strangling his older daughter.

Rourke said Tuesday that investigators never believed that Watts was being entirely truthful.

The request not to seek the death penalty came from Shannan's family, CBS Denver reports. Watts told investigators he "went into a rage" and strangled his wife, then dumped all three bodies at the oil field owned by a company he had worked for.

The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, and Shanann Watts' body was found in a shallow grave.

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

Watts will receive his other sentencing terms on November 19, the date on which his status conference was previously scheduled. The spotlight shines squarely on him, ' he said. Rourke said the plea deal asks the judge to make the first-degree murder sentences consecutive.

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