Colorado man pleads guilty to killing pregnant wife, kids

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

A Colorado man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of murdering his pregnant wife and two small daughters and dumping their bodies in an oil field, in an agreement that will spare him the death penalty.

Yesterday, Shanann's family sat in the front row of the court as they listened to Watts enter his pleas.

He told police he had informed his wife he was leaving her. Investigators later discovered he had been having an affair with a coworker, authorities said. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant at the time.

Watts pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife and daughters and allegations that he killed the girls while in a position of trust.

The plea deal calls for Watts to be sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the deaths of Shanann, Celeste and Bella, along with additional time for the unlawful termination of the couple's unborn child, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said at a press conference following the hearing.

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. "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 (including Shanann's unborn baby)".

Shanann Watts, 34, and her two daughters ages 3 and 4 were reported missing.

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Rourke said he described "extraordinary delays" in carrying out the death penalty in Colorado since Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2013 decision to block the execution of Nathan Dunlap.

Rourke said he had detailed conversations with Shanann Watts' family after Christopher Watts' attorney approached him about a possible deal.

Watts initially spoke to the media after his wife and children were reported missing in August.

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

Watts is accused of killing his pregnant wife and their daughters at their home north of Denver. The bodies were found the week Watts was arrested. The two girls were submerged in oil tanks, and Shanann Watts was in a shallow grave nearby.

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

Law enforcement believe they know the motive behind the murders, as well, and Rourke said he might speak about it after the sentencing.

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