Colorado man pleads guilty to wife and daughter's murders

Chris Watts has reached a plea deal in his murder case

Chris Watts has reached a plea deal in his murder case

The Colorado man accused of slaying his pregnant wife and young daughters pleaded guilty to their gruesome murders in a deal that would spare him the death penalty.

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.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke called Watts' story "a flat-out lie" and said he deserved a life sentence for each of the nine counts to which he had pleaded guilty.

The agreement also required Watts to plead guilty to unlawful termination of Shanann Watts' pregnancy, a felony in Colorado. Her brother looked steadily at Watts throughout the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes.

"I do not want to be in the position of making the choice to take his", Mr Rourke said.

He told officers he loaded his wife and children's bodies into the back seat of his truck and drove them to an oil and natural gas company he worked for. The bodies were found the week Watts was arrested.

Watts initially claimed he killed his wife in an act of passion after finding one daughter dead and Shanann trying to kill the other. 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.

Taking a stab at Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who had repeatedly opposed the execution of another death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, Rourke said: 'We explained to them the extraordinary delays that now exist in the state of Colorado as a result of in part the actions of our current governor.

Mr Rourke said he was not willing to dismiss any charges in exchange for the promise of guilty pleas.

Rourke said they had established a partial motive but would not say what that was.

"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure (for family members of the deceased)", Rourke told reporters.

But, he said, "I think all of us who were involved never truly believed that he would give us an accurate statement".

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 Tuesday that investigators never believed that Watts was being entirely truthful. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".

Image: Shanann and Christopher Watts. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: On him".

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