A Colorado father has pleaded guilty to killing his two young daughters and his pregnant wife in a deal that removes the death penalty as a possible sentence, according to the Weld County District Attorney's Office.
Appearing in court in Greeley, Colorado, on Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to all nine charges as the judge read them out.
Christopher Watts, 33, said he had killed Shannann Watts after seeing her strangling one of their children on a baby monitor. Watts has claimed Shanann had killed one daughter and was actively trying to kill the other when he attacked her in an act of passion, CBS Denver reported.
Watts had faced the possibility of the death penalty if convicted, but under his plea agreement prosecutors pledged to not seek the death penalty, Steve Wrenn, chief deputy district attorney for Weld County, told the judge.
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. Shanann Watts' body was later discovered on the property of an oil and natural gas company that Christopher Watts had worked for. Police have said Watts drove their bodies to an oil site owned by his former employer.
The family agreed to the deal, prosecutors said.
Watts could face three consecutive life sentences.
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In the immediate aftermath of his August 15 arrest, Watts struggled with depression in jail and was "despondent", a source told People magazine at the time. 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 the position of choosing to take his'. But he said: "I know that will never be fully realized, because the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four attractive lives". Rourke said their wishes were the most compelling factor for him in reaching the plea agreement.
"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure (for family members of the deceased)", Rourke told reporters.
But in his guilty plea, Watts made it clear that he, and not his wife, had killed the girls.
"Sandra said it best when she said: 'He made that choice to take their lives".
"The spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly.is now shined correctly on him", Rourke 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.