Man escapes death penalty after admitting killing wife and two daughters

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A Colorado man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of murdering his pregnant wife and two small daughters and dumping their bodies in an oil field, in an agreement that will spare him the death penalty.

In exchange for Chris Watts' guilty plea, the death penalty will not be considered, the Weld County District Attorney's office said.

Those who knew the Watts family have described a seemingly happy marriage possibly beset by rising tension, and his infidelity has drawn scrutiny: Authorities have said Chris was cheating with a co-worker when he murdered 34-year-old Shan'ann, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

The family agreed to the deal, prosecutors said.

"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.

'I don't know how I could have sat in Sandy's kitchen and asked her to commit the next 25 years of her life to the criminal justice system without any assurance that the sentence would ever actually be imposed, ' he said.

Watts could now reportedly face three consecutive life terms at a sentencing hearing, scheduled for 19 November.

"I do not want to be in the position of making the choice to take his", Rourke said, quoting Sandra.

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Christopher Watts initially claimed to police after he was arrested that he killed Shanann Watts after she killed their daughters, according to court documents.

The girls' bodies were found in oil barrels and Shanann's body was found in a shallow grave nearby. He's accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters. Police have said Watts drove their bodies to an oil site owned by his former employer.

Rourke said Tuesday that investigators never believed that Watts was being entirely truthful.

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

Watts is represented by the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, which does not comment on pending cases.

However, in a second interview with police, Watts told police he looked at the baby monitor screen and saw Shanann strangling their daughter Celeste and that he saw their older daughter, Bella, blue and "sprawled" out on her bed, according to the affidavit.

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.

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

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