Man Who Killed Pregnant Wife and Two Little Girls Avoids Death Penalty

However Colorado does not recognize unlawful killing of unborn child as a form of homicide

By Dave Andrusko

Christopher Watts, Shanann Watts AP/Facebook

Prosecutors in Frederick, Colorado, allowed Christopher Watt, who had murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters, to avoid the death penalty by agreeing to plead guilty to nine counts, including “five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body,” according to Elise Schmelzer of the Denver Post.

Tragically, none of those charges acknowledge the humanity of the baby Shanann Watt was carrying when Watt murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters in August. Almost all states recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn baby as homicide in at least certain circumstances, but not Colorado.

The bodies of Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4, were found stuffed in an oil tank on the property of Anadarko Petroleum, the company where Christopher Watts worked. Shanann’s body was found in a shallow grave nearby.

The agreement was signed off on by Mrs. Watts parents. During a press conference Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said that Sandra Rzucek, Shanann Watts’ mother, had offered the best explanation of the family’s decision.
“She said, ‘He made the choice to take their lives,’ ” Rourke said. ” ‘I didn’t want to be in the position to make the choice to take his.’”

Watt will serve three consecutive life sentences.

Rourke “said he would not have accepted a deal that permitted the dismissal of any of the charges against Watts,” Schmelzer wrote. “The proposed imposition of three consecutive life sentences was important even though it does not make any practical difference, he said. ‘It was important that each of those beautiful human beings be reflected in the sentence,’ Rourke said.”

The girls may have been strangled. “Weld County coroners have completed autopsies on the three bodies, but those reports remained sealed,” Schmelzer reported. “Rourke said he did not intend to keep them sealed after sentencing” which is scheduled for November 19.

Watts attempted to blame the death of the two girls on his wife to police. But his statements were “a flat-out lie,” Rourke said.