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.
In court Tuesday, Watts took responsibility for all three deaths, pleading guilty to nine charges, including first-degree murder and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
As the judge read each charge one by one, Watts pleaded "guilty", his voice sometimes cracking. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy they were going to name Nico. Her brother looked steadily at Watts throughout the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes. The District Attorney's Office said the family might make a statement at a later date, but they are asking for privacy at this time.
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. The bodies were found the week Watts was arrested.
According to court documents, a police investigation determined that Watts "was actively involved in an affair with a co-worker". But he told police that he strangled her in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation.
'That to me was the most important consideration in deciding how to proceed in this a case.
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He initially told law enforcement that on the morning of August 13 he told his wife he wanted to separate and then left for work.
Rourke said he described "extraordinary delays" in carrying out the death penalty in Colorado since Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2013 decision to block the execution of Nathan Dunlap. He will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
'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. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case".
"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", Rourke said.
Rourke met with Shannan Watts' parents at their North Carolina home to discuss the case before agreeing to the plea deal, the Denver Post quoted Rourke as saying at a press conference.
According to People, the source said, Watts was furious at having to enter the guilty plea.