Dad pleads guilty in killing of pregnant wife, 2 daughters

Christopher Watts Arraignment Hearing in Murder Of Wife And Children

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse

The Colorado man accused of slaying his pregnant wife and young daughters pleaded guilty to their gruesome murders in a deal that would spare him the death penalty.

The district attorney agreed to drop the death penalty in exchange for Mr Watts accepting all nine charges against him as part of a plea bargain.

Watts' voice was shaking, and he could occasionally be heard sniffing after each time he said "guilty".

Shanann Watts' parents, Sandra and Frank Rzucek, as well as her brother, Frank Rzucek Jr., also attended the hearing and subsequent press conference.

Breaking - Chris Watts to take a plea deal to killing his pregnant wife and two daughters.

Shanann, Bella and Celeste were reported missing August 13 from their home in Frederick, a town of about 8600 people about 50 kilometres north of Denver.

In August, after Shanann and the two girls were reported missing, Watts appeared on local television pleading for their safe return.

Investigators have previously said that Watts admitted to police that he killed his wife, Shanann.

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Watts acknowledged strangling his wife, Shanann, 34, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, and dumping their bodies in an oil field belonging to Anadarko Petroleum, where Watts had worked until he was arrested in the case, according to Denver 7 News.

Taking a stab at Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who had repeatedly opposed the execution of another death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, Rourke said: 'We explained to them the extraordinary delays that now exist in the state of Colorado as a result of in part the actions of our current governor. Rourke said their wishes were the most compelling factor for him in reaching the plea agreement.

He said the family was strongly against pursuing the death penalty, especially after they discussed the extensive delays in the process in Colorado.

"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.

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

"What I can tell you most affirmatively today by what happened in the courtroom, is the spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly and frankly a flat-out lie, has been corrected", said Weld County District Attorney Michael J. Rourke.

When asked how he feels, Rourke said "sick" and "saddened".

Watts is represented by the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, which does not comment on pending cases. I never wanted to have to stand up and have a press conference like this.

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