Colorado Man Pleads Guilty To Strangling Wife, 2 Young Daughters

Chris Watts has reached a plea deal in his murder case

Christopher Watts pleaded guilty today to the murder of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table.

Christopher Watts entered his plea Tuesday during a court hearing in Greeley.

Investigators said Watts in August killed his 34-year-old wife, Shanann, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, before dumping their bodies on property belonging to an oil company where he worked.

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. The plea deal states that Watts will serve consecutive life terms for the three murders, news media reported.

After visiting Shanann Watts' family in North Carolina and speaking with other prosecutors in Colorado, Rourke said he made the decision not to pursue the death penalty.

"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure (for family members of the deceased)", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said, according to CNN. 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".

"I was not willing to entertain any further concessions above and beyond removing the death penalty", he said.

With the November 6 deal, Watts has agreed to five counts of murder in the first degree, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

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Watts had initially denied the murders which happened in August this year. "I don't want to be in the position to make that choice to take his, '" Rourke said.

He said he went off to work and only knew something was wrong when he was contacted later by her colleagues.

Shanann Watts, Bella and Celeste were first reported missing on August 13 by one of Shanann Watts' friends.

His wife was buried there and the girls were submerged in crude oil, with their remains found by police who used a drone to search areas identified by Watts.

A memorial outside the home of Shanann Watts in Colorado.

Rourke said "the spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly and frankly, a flat-out lie, has been corrected" by his guilty pleas. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: On him".

Rourke said investigators believe they have a partial motive for the slayings, but said he wouldn't give details until after Watts is sentenced.

Colorado law requires that a first-degree murder conviction brings a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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