By Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
GREELEY — A Colorado man charged with killing his pregnant wife and two daughters pleaded guilty Tuesday under a plea deal that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.
Christopher Watts entered his plea Tuesday during a court hearing in Greeley, 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. Watts’ voice was shaking, and he could occasionally be heard sniffing after each time he said “guilty.”
Shanann Watts’ parents and her brother were in the courtroom. Her brother looked steadily at Watts throughout the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes.
The family agreed to the deal, prosecutors said.
Watts, a former oil and gas worker, was charged in August with killing his pregnant 34-year-old wife and their daughters at their home in Frederick, a community in the oil and gas fields north of Denver. Police have said Watts drove their bodies to an oil site owned by his former employer. The girls’ bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, and Shanann Watts’ body was found in a shallow grave.
According to court documents, a police investigation determined that Watts “was actively involved in an affair with a co-worker.”
Investigators claimed in the documents that Watts admitted to police that he killed his wife. But he said he strangled her in “a rage” when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation.