Christopher Watts pleads guilty in deaths of wife, young daughters

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Christopher Watts pleads guilty in deaths of wife, young daughters

The father accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters has pleaded guilty for the first time after reaching a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.

Watts appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to all nine counts against him, including five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

Later, as people searched for his missing family, Watts told CNN affiliate KMGH he had had an emotional conversation with his wife, Shanann, the last time he saw her.

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

The district attorney said lawyers for Chris Watts reached out several weeks ago about making a deal.

Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella and Celeste, were originally reported missing in August. The three bodies were found on property near Roggen owned by Anadarko Petroleum Co., where Watts worked as an operator until August 15.

Their bodies were found hidden in a Colorado oil field, news accounts say, with Shannan Watts buried in a shallow grave and the girls dumped into an oil tank.

Rourke spoke at a news conference following the hearing in Weld County District Court, flanked by law enforcement from the agencies involved in the case, including the FBI, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Frederick Police Department.

Police said that after they found the bodies three days later, Chris Watts, 33, then said he strangled his wife in a rage after he saw her on a baby monitor choking the couple's 3-year-old daughter.

After his pregnant wife and two daughters disappeared, Watts stood on his porch in Colorado and told reporters how much he missed them.

Rourke said at a press conference that the plea deal was made with the support of Shanann Watts' family, and after he explained what he called the "extraordinary delays that now exist" in Colorado in putting prisoners to death.

"That about as firmly as she could have said it to me", Rourke said.

"They were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty", Rourke said.

"We charged him with what we truly believed he had done", Rourke said.

'I don't know how I could have sat in Sandy's kitchen and asked her to commit the next 25 years of her life to the criminal justice system without any assurance that the sentence would ever actually be imposed, ' he said.

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

When asked how he feels, Rourke said "sick" and "saddened". "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs - on him", Rourke said.

'No one wins today.

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