Colorado man pleads guilty to murdering pregnant wife and two daughters

Colorado man pleads guilty to murdering pregnant wife and two daughters

A Colorado man who publicly begged for the safe return of his missing pregnant wife and their two daughters on Tuesday pleaded guilty to killing them, in a deal the prosecutor said spares him the death penalty.

Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to each of the nine counts he faces, including three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under the age of 12 in a position of trust for the August deaths of his wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, according to Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke.

He could be heard sniffing and trembled each time he said "guilty" in response to each charge read against him by the judge.

Shannan was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

Shanann's parents Frank and Sandra Rzucek are pictured at the press conference after his hearing on Tuesday.

Rourke recounted a conversation with Shanann Watts' mother, Sandra Rzucek, that helped make the decision.

Shanann was found in a shallow grave in a crude oil field where her husband worked.

Watts claimed Shanann had killed one daughter and was actively trying to kill the other when he attacked her in an act of passion.

When Shanann Watts and her two little girls went missing from their home in Frederick, about 30 miles north of Denver, Chris Watts first told news cameras that they had gone to a friend's house.

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Rourke said he and another prosecutor visited Shanann Watts' family in North Carolina last month to discuss the odds of a death penalty sentence being carried out.

The request not to seek the death penalty came from Shannan's family, CBS Denver reports.

"I just want them back", he said in the interview.

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

Rourke called those claims a "flat out lie" and said he did not believe Christopher Watts would give authorities a full, accurate and truthful statement.

Watts is represented by the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, which does not comment on pending cases. "I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four lovely lives (including Shanann's unborn baby)". Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".

"The spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, now shined correctly on him", Rourke said.

"No one wins today", he said. I never wanted to have to stand up and have a press conference like this.

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