Man pleads guilty to killing pregnant wife and young 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.

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado.

On Tuesday, the Weld County, Colo., district attorney's office said, Watts pleaded guilty to killing Shannan Watts, 34, and their daughters Bella, 3, and Celeste, 4, in August.

Nevertheless, Mrs Watts had written upbeat social media posts about her daughters, pregnancy and love for her husband not long before she died.

The plea deal was approved by Shanann's family who told the district attorney they did not want to end his life as he did their daughter's and grandchildren's.

Rourke said at a press conference that the plea deal was made with the support of Shanann Watts' family, and after he explained what he called the "extraordinary delays that now exist" in Colorado in putting prisoners to death.

"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.

"I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four lovely lives".

Watts will be sentenced on November 19 and is facing life in prison. Rourke told reporters that authorities have what he called a partial motive, and said he would offer more thoughts after Watts is sentenced.

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Family friend Ashley Bell said he did not understand why Watts killed his family, describing him as a loving father and his wife as "pretty happy" at the time of her death.

Watts reached a plea deal Tuesday afternoon to avoid the death penalty.

It's alleged he drove their bodies to an oil site, and police said the girls' bodies were found in an oil tank while his wife's body was found in a shallow grave.

"They were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty", Rourke said.

He killed his wife, Shanann, and their two children.

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.

Hours after the arrest, his family's remains were discovered on property owned by an oil and gas company where he worked. "The spotlight shines directly where it belongs - on him", Rourke said.

Image: Shanann and Christopher Watts. Rourke said the plea deal asks the judge to make the first-degree murder sentences consecutive.