Dad accused of killing wife, kids pleads guilty to gruesome murders

Chris Watts

Modal Trigger Chris Watts AP

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.

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.

As Radar previously reported, Watts initially claimed he had found his wife strangling their two daughters to death at their home after he had asked her for a separation, prompting him to go into a rage and kill her.

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.

Watts, 33, pleaded guilty on all nine counts he was facing to avoid the death penalty. Shanann Watts' body was later discovered on the property of an oil and natural gas company that Christopher Watts had worked for.

His wife was buried there and the girls were submerged in crude oil, with their remains found by police who used a drone to search areas identified by Watts.

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

Watts could face three consecutive life sentences. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy they were going to name Nico. The three bodies were found on property near Roggen owned by Anadarko Petroleum Co., where Watts worked as an operator until August 15. "'I do not want to be in a position of making the choice to take his'".

Watts' family had all flown out to Colorado in order to be in court today to support him.

"I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four handsome lives".

During the plea hearing on Tuesday, he said the falsehood that Shannan killed the children was corrected.

"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said following the hearing.

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

"(Her mother) said, 'He made the choice to take those lives, '" the district attorney said.

Asked if a motive has been determined in the case, Rourke said that investigators believe they have a "partial motive" and Rourke said he would have more to say about that following the sentencing, which is scheduled for November 19.

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