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

Chris Watts

A Colorado man, Chris Watts, has pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant wife and daughters.

He entered his plea Tuesday during a court hearing, replying "guilty" nine times in response to Judge Marcelo Kopcow's reading of each charge against him in the deaths of Shanann Watts, 34, and their children, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

In his initial interview with police months ago, Watts said that on the morning of August 13 he had told his wife he wanted to separate and then left for work. He added that law enforcement never believed Watts' defense that Shanann Watts had strangled her daughters to death, sending him into a rage that led him to strangle his wife to death.

Watts initially faced the possibility of the death penalty, however with the agreement of the victims' family, the District Attorney "eliminated the death penalty from consideration in exchange for pleading guilty to all nine counts".

As the judge read each charge one by one, Watts pleaded "guilty", his voice sometimes cracking.

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.

Watts will receive his other sentencing terms on November 19, the date on which his status conference was previously scheduled.

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The girls' bodies were found in oil barrels and Shanann's body was found in a shallow grave nearby.

"I don't know how I could have sat in Sandy (Rzucek)'s kitchen and asked her to commit the next 25 years of her life of the criminal justice system", Rourke said.

"[Shan'ann's mother] said it very, very poignantly to me", Rourke recalled. Her parents, Frank Rzucek and Sandra Onorati Rzucek, and her brother, Frankie Rzucek, watched from a front row of the packed courtroom.

Watts could face three consecutive life sentences.

Christopher Watts, 33, said he had killed Shannann Watts after seeing her strangling one of their children on a baby monitor. He will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".

Still, he cautioned: Though the family was present for Chris' plea and the subsequent presser, they were "not prepared nor do they want to answer questions at this point".

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

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