A judge in Greeley, Colorado, on Monday sentenced a man convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters to three terms of life in prison without possibility of parole.
KMGH-TV in Denver reported that Chris Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the death of his wife, Shanann, 34, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
In addition to the life sentences for the murders themselves, Judge Marcelo Kopcow handed out two more life sentences for charges of “first degree murder by a person in a position of trust,” according to KMGH, for the deaths of Watts’ daughters.
The judge also added a 48-year prison term to Watts for the death of the couple’s unborn child, referred to by family members as Nico Lee, the station reported.
The judge called it perhaps “the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases that I have seen.”
Before Watts was sentenced, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke revealed details of how Watts strangled his wife and smothered his daughters in mid-August, and then disposed of their bodies at an oil and gas site where he works.
Watts buried his wife — 15 weeks pregnant at the time — in a shallow grave and shoved his daughters in oil tanks.
LIFE IN PRISON: Colorado father Chris Watts, 33, has been sentenced to five life sentences for killing his pregnant wife Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters Celeste, 3 and Bella, 4. https://t.co/lCqMqn1Xj8 pic.twitter.com/u0SCMYSK7t
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) November 19, 2018
Shanann’s family asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty in the case.
The deceased’s mother, Sandra Rzucek, explained at the sentencing hearing, “I didn’t want death for you. Your life is between you and God now, and I pray that He has mercy on you.”
Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek Sr., had harsher words for his son-in-law, describing Watts as a “heartless monster” for murdering his family.
“I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,” he said. “You have to live with this vision every day of your life, and I hope you see that every day of your life.”
Rzucek ended: “This is hard to say, but may God have mercy on your soul.”
Shanann’s brother, Frank Rzucek Jr., had Rourke read his statement, relating that he is in anguish and struggles to sleep at night.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t cry for my family,” Rourke said, reading Frank Jr.’s statement. “You don’t deserve to be called a man. What kind of person slaughters the people they love the most?”
Chris Watts, a Colorado man who publicly pleaded for the safe return of his pregnant wife and two daughters, is sentenced to life in prison for their killings https://t.co/5QfK4n1ph6 pic.twitter.com/DIjJBuTvqF
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 19, 2018
An attorney for Watts told Kopcow her client is “devastated,” and though Watts realizes his words are hollow, he is “sincerely sorry for all of this,” CNN reported.
Watts was having an affair at the time he murdered his wife and daughters. He told law enforcement that on the morning of Aug. 13, before he left for work, he had informed Shanann that he wanted a separation.
When his family was first reported missing, Watts went on national television saying he hoped they would be found soon.
“My kids are my life,” he said, from the front porch of their home in Frederick, Colorado, about 30 miles north of Denver. “Those smiles light up my life.”
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