A Frederick, Colorado, man who pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in August has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Christopher Watts’ sentence was handed down Monday after his parents and the family of his slain wife Shanann Watts made emotional statements before the court.
“I could objectively say this is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,” Judge Marcelo Kopcow told the court. “Nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate.”
As part of a plea deal, Chris Watts pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to three counts of murder for the deaths of his 34-year-old wife, who was 15 weeks’ pregnant, and their daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. The plea deal saved him from facing the death penalty.
The court ordered Watts to serve consecutive life sentences in prison ― all without the chance of parole ― for each of the murder charges. He was also sentenced to 48 years for the killing of his unborn child and received additional 12-year sentences for tampering with the bodies of his wife and daughters.
Prosecutors said Watts strangled his wife and then smothered his daughters before dumping their bodies on an oil site where he used to work. The 33-year-old was having an affair, they said, and had been making plans for a new life when he decided to kill his family.
“If he was that happy and wanted a new start, get a divorce,” Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said Monday in court. “You don’t annihilate your family and throw them away like garbage.”
In searing remarks before the court, Shanann Watts’ parents and brother described the painful loss of their loved ones. They explained they were not seeking the death penalty against Chris Watts because they don’t believe anyone has the right to take life away from another person.
“I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,” said Frank Rzucek, Shanann’s father. “And they also trusted you. ... You heartless monster. You have to live with this vision every day of your life and I hope you see it every time you close your eyes at night.”
Cindy and Ronnie Watts, Chris’ parents, were also permitted to address the court. They said they weren’t asking for leniency in their son’s sentencing, but said they love and forgive him.
Chris Watts, who declined to make a statement during the hearing, became visibly emotional during his parents’ comments.
“He is devastated by all of this,” Watts’ attorney told the court on his behalf. “He is sincerely sorry for all of this.”