Man escapes death penalty after admitting killing wife and two daughters

Dad accused of killing wife, kids pleads guilty to gruesome murders

Christopher Watts, the Frederick man accused of killing his wife and young daughters, pleaded guilty to murder, the judge said on Tuesday.

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado.

Watts initially told police he strangled his wife in a rage because, after the couple had argued, she killed their two girls. 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.

Prosecutors said a possible death penalty was dropped with the agreement of victims' family members.

Watts replied "guilty" nine times in response to Judge Marcelo Kopcow's reading of each charge.

Rourke blamed Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper for refusing to allow executions while he is in office.

The children's bodies were found in oil tanks by their mother's shallow grave.

"I don't know how I could have sat in Sandy (Rzucek)'s kitchen and asked her to commit the next 25 years of her life of the criminal justice system", Rourke said.

Rourke added that a factor in the decision was the impending gubernatorial election which could determine whether or not a governor would even enforce the death penalty if it applied.

As part of the sentencing agreement, Watts will spend the rest of his life in prison for the first-degree murder charges.

During the plea hearing on Tuesday, he said the falsehood that Shannan killed the children was corrected.

"I will be the first to tell you I truly appreciate the Rzuceks being present not only in the state of Colorado but in this room", Rourke said at the news conference.

"I can only say that I hope there is a sense of closure", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said following the hearing.

Christopher Watts, 33, said he had killed Shannann Watts after seeing her strangling one of their children on a baby monitor.

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

While Rourke said he followed standard procedure in this case, acting no differently despite its notoriety, the clear wishes of Shan'ann's family's were unavoidable. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case". I never wanted to have to stand up and have a press conference like this.

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