Chris Watts Pleads Guilty To Murdering Pregnant Wife and 2 Daughters, Avoids Death Penalty
Chris Watts has pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in order to avoid a possible death sentence, prosecutors say.
FREDERICK, CO — In another shocking twist in the case of a gruesome triple homicide that has gripped the nation, Chris Watts has pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters.
The Colorado man made the plea in exchange for being spared a possible death sentence, according to People.
Watts, 33, was arrested on August 15 and charged with murdering his wife Shan’ann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
Shan’ann was about 15 weeks pregnant with a son at the time of her murder. According to her family, she planned to name the baby Nico Lee.
Watts pleaded to nine charges in total: Five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a dead body.
He will be formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on November 19, according to prosecutors.
According to the district attorney’s office, the plea arrangement was reached with the consent of the victims’ family.
Shan’ann and her daughers disappeared after she returned home from a business trip in the early hours of August 13. In the days that followed, Watts made a plea on television asking for their safe return, that many judged to be emotionless.
He first told police that his wife and daughters were at a friend's house. But investigators began to focus on Watts after they found multiple inconsistencies in his story.
They also discovered that he was having an affair with a coworker, according to an affidavit supporting his arrest that was unsealed in late August.
The day after they arrested Watts, the bodies of Shan’ann and the girls were found on an oil site owned by the company where he had been working.
Shan’ann was buried in a shallow grave and their daughters’ bodies were hidden in nearby oil tanks, where they stayed for roughly four days, according to Watts’ arrest affidavit and other court filings.
Watts later said that he killed Shan’ann after flying “into a rage.” He claimed that after he told her that he wanted to separate, he saw her strangling one of their daughters on a baby monitor.
But in court on Tuesday, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said that Watts’ story was a lie.
“What I can tell you most affirmatively today, by what happened in the court room, is the spotlight that he tried to shine on Shan'ann falsely, incorrectly … has been corrected,” Rourke said at a press conference. “The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: on him.”
Rourke said that authorities have an as yet undisclosed “partial motive” in the triple murder.
Friends and family said that Shan’ann’s family was her whole world – and that she considered her daughters “miracles” because she had health problems and had been unsure that she would ever have children.
According to sources quoted by People, Watts decided to take the plea deal after realizing that the evidence against him was “overwhelming.”
Read more: People