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Chris Watts sentenced to life in prison without parole for killings of pregnant wife, two daughters

Posted at 1:00 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 21:35:38-05

GREELEY – Chris Watts, the Frederick man who pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant wife and two daughters, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday.

Watts was sentenced to five life sentences. Judge Marcelo Kapcow said three of those sentences will be served consecutively and two concurrently.

Shanann Watts was 34 years old , Bella was 4 years old and Celeste was 3 years old when they were killed on Aug. 13, 2018.

District Attorney Michael Rourke and Shannan’s family hoped he would finally explain why he committed such a horrible crime against his family. Watts said nothing. Now Rourke never expects him to explain anything.

According to Rourke, Watts never gave any other account of what happened to his family, other than his one statement in which he claimed his wife had killed their daughters.  Prosecutors believe the motivation for the murders was linked to the wife’s suspicion he was having an extramarital affair.

In an emotionally charged hearing, Shanann’s parents and brother provided statements and spoke before the court, including Watts, who was seated to their right.

Shanann’s Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek, provided a tearful statement directed toward Watts.

“Life will never be the same without Shanann, Bella Celeste and Nico,” said Frank Ruzcek.” They had all their lives to live. They were taken by a heartless one.”

To Watts, he said: “I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them.”

Watts sat mostly emotionless, occasionally tapping his foot rapidly, while he watched Shanann’s mother and brother provide statements grieving their daughter and their sister as well as her children.

He declined to read an apology himself and instead asked his attorney to read his statement.

“Although he understands words are hollow at this point, he is sincerely sorry for all of this. Thank you.”

Watts’ parents Cindy and Ronnie also spoke, they forgave their son and said they are heartbroken for the deaths of their grandchildren as well as Shanann.

Cindy Watts, who read the last part of her statement through tears, directed toward her son.

“I have known you since the day you were born,” Cindy Watts said through tears. “I have watched you grow from a quiet, sweet, curious child who Bella reminded me so much of, to a young man who worked hard in sports and mechanics to achieve your goals. We have loved you from the beginning, and we still love you now.”

Judge Marcelo Kopcow, who presided over the process, called it, “the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases that I have seen.”

Weld County prosecutors said Shanann’s family agreed to an offer extended by Watts defense team, which was announced on Nov. 6.  On Monday, Shanann’s family said in court that they asked the prosecution to spare Watts’ life.  The family understood it was very unlikely they would receive closure by seeking the death penalty, which in all likelihood would not be carried out in Colorado.

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke also recounted the series of events in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, when it’s believed Chris Watts killed Shanann.

They said Watts strangled Shanann and smothered Bella and Celeste. Rourke said Shanann Watts’ only injuries were on the right side of her neck, showing marks from fingers or fingernails.

Autopsies for the mother and daughters will be released this afternoon. Authorities say they were never able to determine in what order the family members died, but District Attorney Rourke said it took incredible intent to strangle three people in a row.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)